"Oh, So Bella Bellagio" Top 5 Page for this destination Bellagio by starship
Bellagio Travel Guide: 172 reviews and 414 photos
Visiting Bellagio in March of 2004, was one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to begin building this page. But in any case, let me tell you a little about how I had the good fortune to visit Bellagio, Milan and Como as well.
In 2003, the two professors I work for began proposals for an international conference which ultimately was funded by a grant enabling them to gather together about 22 international scholars for a week long conference to be held at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio. The Villa Serbelloni (not to be confused with the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni) is a beautiful and historic villa which is now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation and is used as a study & conference center. For months I worked determinedly on the details of the conference which was quite a major undertaking. I never expected to be invited, but as time drew near to the conference, there were some last minute cancellations by important guests and consequently, just after New Years, I was invited to travel to Bellagio for the conference with all expenses covered by the grant. Of course, I had to work at the conference, but it was an absolute pleasure.
If you are lucky enough to be invited to the Villa Serbelloni, you are among a limited and select number of individuals who will ever have the privilege to attend a conference there or become a short-term resident there. So it is with extreme humility and gratitude to the two professors that I can say that I have been one of a limited number of people who have visited and stayed at the Rockefeller Foundation's Study and Conference Center at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio.
Villa Serbelloni has the happy fortune to be situated on the hillside promontory which divides the two arms of Lago di Como or Lake Como on a large amount of acreage. Beside the Villa itself, there are many other residences on the gated property, and I had a very pleasant room to myself in one of these other buildings. Breakfast was in the common room of my building, but each lunch and dinner was served in the formal dining room of the Villa itself, preceded by a cocktail hour and followed by music in the drawing room. Of course, the conference sessions were held during the day and I was, of course, there as a support person who was lucky enough to just be in the presence of such a distinguished group.
Because of its location, Bellagio has a rather strategic postion on Lake Como and therefore has seen its share of history having served as a fortress, been the sight of many battles, and been graced by the presence many notable people. Poets and artists have been drawn to Bellagio and Lago di Como for centuries. Shelly, Longfellow, Stendhal, Flaubert and Liszt have all come to drink in the beauty of Bellagio.
Pliny the Younger built his villa, "Tragoedia" on the spot where the Villa Serbelloni now stands. It was on this same site thatStilicone defeated the Visigoths at Bellagio and built a fortress. Today there are still material reminders of Bellagio's medieval defense system. "Salita Serbelloni" is a steep set of steps which ascend from the Lungo Lario Manzoni ( in Borgoall the way to Via Garibaldi on the edge of the Villa Serbelloni's property. The Salita Serbelloni is know to locals as "il Fossato" or the ditch, because long ago it was a ditch used in defending the old town. Portions of the thick town walls in which there were 3 gateways can still be seen.
Today, there are shops, restaurants and hotels on the town's waterfront, and the Salita Serbelloni has also evolved into a center for activity with many shops, cafes and some small, quaint hotels on each side of the many steps leading to the top.
About 1630, a plague of epidemic proportions enveloped most of the areas around Lago di Como. But due to its geographic position of being located on a penisula, Bellagio remained uninfected as did its food supply. The town of Varenna was one of those which fell to the epidemic and food supplies and trade were necessarily cut off. However, the people of Bellagio baked bread for the people of Varenna but of course had to avoid contact with them. So the people of Bellagio placed food on a large rock in the lake. The buyers of this bread from Varenna then took the bread and left money in a jar filled with vinegar which acted as a disinfectant. This legend is described in a book "I promessi Sposi" (The Betrothed) by Manzoni.
NOTE: I found this legend very interesting & remarkable, but a similar tale is also told in a current book, "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks.
This legend tells of a flood that occured about the end of the 17th century. The Rivers Adda and Mera overflowed their banks and destroyed a small church in Valtellina where there was a wooden statue of Jesus known as "Intero". It is said that the statue was carried by the water and eventually washed up on the beach at Bellagio! The statue was never reclaimed by anyone in Valtellina, so the people of Bellagio proudly preserved the statue and it is said that even today it plays an important part in the "Good Friday" procession in Bellagio.
- Pros:Georgeous views, lakefront hotels, and quaint streets!
- Cons:Expensive to stay here, but it's worth it!
- In a nutshell:Too beautiful to miss!
I stayed elsewhere in Bellagio during my time there but visited this hotel to get information. The Hotel Metropole... more travel advice
Widely considered the most famous and fabulous hotel on Lago di Como, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni began its life in... more travel advice
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