Appreciated since ancient times as the place for a holiday among patrician Roman families thanks to its extremely mild microclimate, over the centuries it has managed to grow its prestige without compromising its great charm and beauty.
Among the many wonderful places around Lake Como, the little town of Bellagio is probably the most romantic and beautiful, so much so that it is called the Pearl of Lake Como.
Among the many wonderful places around Lake Como, the little town of Bellagio is probably the most romantic and beautiful, so much so that it is called the Pearl of Lake Como. Appreciated since ancient times as the place for a holiday among patrician Roman families thanks to its extremely mild microclimate, over the centuries it has managed to grow its prestige without compromising its great charm and beauty, becoming a place of residence and a tourist destination for important personages from European nobility, cultural figures, artists, politicians and more recently show business celebrities. Among these we can mention the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, Franz Liszt, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Alfred Hitchcock, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Helmut Newton, and last but not least, George Clooney, to name but a few.
It is principally the views that attract guests and tourists from the world over, the well-tended lake shores that can be admired and enjoyed as you leave the town center behind, a paradise for cyclists and bikers who with every bend in the road can see new, breathtaking scenery. The picturesque town center has little lanes dotted with boutiques, craft shops and little restaurants, there are noble villas such as Villa Melzi and gardens that are much sought after and desired by lovers, of all ages and backgrounds, who wish there to tie the knot and swear undying love to each other.
Other places of interest are the San Giacomo Basilica which goes back to the end of the 11th century with several Baroque additions and restoration work carried out during the twentieth century, the Church of San Giorgio from Roman times and half an hour’s walk from the center, the Museum of Navigational Instruments which has a fascinating collection of over 200 nautical objects going back as far as the 18th century.
The area around Bellagio is certainly at its best in the summer, with many water and land sports activities to enjoy, walks and hikes, bike rides, places with historical and cultural interest to visit. If you hire a canoe with someone to accompany you along the stunning coast and shoreline around Bellagio you can even crossing the lake in the space of a few hours. There are also some great excursions to be enjoyed by night or with an “aperitif break”. And there are opportunities to go water ski-ing, sailing and much more too. Not far from Bellagio there are lidos and little public beaches to sunbathe and swim in the less crowded Lecco branch of the lake where the water stays clean and transparent even in high season.
One might not think of Bellagio as much more than water sports and wonderful walks among gorgeous villas and gardens. But one would be wrong. Mount Primo at an altitude of 1682 meters above sea level is a place that attracts a good number of cross country ski-ing fans and there are lifts and slopes too which in summer turn into downhill tracks for mountain bikers who come here for their fun too.
Gastronomic tradition at Bellagio, just as it is all round the Lario area, is rich, imaginative and complete, managing to combine lake fish specialties with meat products, salamis, cheeses and typical wines of the hills and plains of Lombardy This rich gastronomic heritage has been preserved and is offered in the menus of numerous family-run Bellagio restaurants with a typically cozy atmosphere.
On a bright sunny day, what could be better than lunch on a veranda, perhaps in the cool shade of a flower-filled pergola, while admiring what man and nature have created together – a little piece of paradise! The same might be said of a dinner while watching the thousands of twinkling lights of the villages as they are reflected in the cool waters of the lake. Fish lovers will enjoy the local specialty called missoltini (misultitt in Como dialect), little salted lake fish, salted and sun-dried according to a special procedure, and served with a slice of grilled polenta. And the ravioli filled with lake fish or a dish of fish with risotto are just not to be missed.
Despite great International appeal, the center of Bellagio has managed to retain its true small town spirit. Today there are still mostly shops displaying art, antiques and local craft objects and a walk around the little roads seeking a souvenir to keep for ever or a gift for someone special is one of the most authentic pleasures Bellagio has to offer. Even the food shops offer local products and treats, the same ones that can be enjoyed in local restaurants. And obviously jewelry is also to be found there as well as shops with rich clothes made in the famous silk from Como.
Leggende di Bellagio
Il sasso del pane: durante l'epidemia di peste, che si sviluppò in epoca Manzoniana nel 1630, la popolazione di Bellagio, grazie alla conformazione geografica a penisola del territorio, evitò il contagio e quindi, utilizzando grano sano, produceva del pane per gli abitanti di Varenna. Lo scambio avveniva su di un grosso masso, poco distante dalla riva, ove si lasciava il pane. I compratori prendevano il pane e depositavano i soldi in un contenitore riempito d'aceto, per disinfettarli. Ora quel sasso è stato minato perchè costituiva un pericolo per la navigazione, ma dalla punta di Bellaggio (da dove si possono vedere tutti e tre i rami del Lario) quando il livello del Lago è basso, ancora si possono osservare i resti di questo storico "sasso".
La statua del Gesu': Molto probabilmente (non si ha notizia della data esatta) verso la fine del ´600 - primi del '700, durante un'alluvione e straripamento dell'Adda o del Mera, ci fu la distruzione di una chiesina in Valtellina, ove si trovava una statua di legno raffigurante Gesu'. La statua, galleggiando sulle acque del lago, arrivo' a fermarsi sulla spiaggia di Bellagio; non venne mai reclamata da nessuno ed i Bellagini, orgogliosi di questo ritrovamento, ancora oggi la conservano gelosamente, esponendola durante la processione del Venerdi' Santo. Il nome di questa statua di manifattura Spagnola e Intero, proprio perche' raffigura il Corpo di Gesu'.
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