Lake Como

Bellagio was more relaxed and not as expensive as I feared. We enjoyed our four nights there, though I think we would have liked Varenna also.

Day 1: Castelrotto to Bellagio

Getting up at 5:00am was easy compared to figuring out the ferries in Como. It took one bus, three trains, and a ferry to get to Bellagio from Castelrotto. The bus was on time, and we got to see the mountains at dawn. Our train to Verona was 10 minutes late but we had plenty of time in Verona so it was no issue. We even had time to pay €1 to use the stinky bathroom.

Our train from Verona to Milan was 5 minutes late. Since we only had 10 minutes to start, we had to run. We made our train, which was more like a metro and hit the airport after we got off. We didn’t even have time to show our tickets. At Saronno we got on a double-decker train to Como Lago. (Only the first train trip from Bolzano to Verona was at all scenic.)

At Lake Como the fun began. We found the line for the boat but had to wait until 3:10pm to get on one. It was frustrating, but once on the boat it was relaxing and beautiful.

Once we landed we asked about the “park road” our host had recommended as easier when transporting luggage. The guy I asked didn’t know about it. He did point us right to the stairs so we just did that. It was painful but brief and direct.

We had dinner at Bilacus, where I’d made reservations. It was also on our host’s list of recommendations. They had a huge wine list — but did not try to sell us on anything — and an interesting menu.

Day 2: Walk to Local Hamlets

Today we followed a walk outlined in a local brochure. It goes across the peninsula and back, then down the coast to San Giovanni.

stone walk within stone walls
The first part of the walk is between stone walls but most of it has great views of the surrounding countryside and lake.

Back in town we stopped at the car ferry on the way back to check schedules. Then walked through the park to chart a way down without steps when we leave with our luggage. (Bellagio has lots of steep steps.)

Near home we discovered a recommended restaurant was open until 4:00pm. (Many restaurants close between 3:00pm and 5:30pm or later.) So spur of the moment we went for lunch at Antico Pozzo and got the last table. After lunch we got some bread and cheese to go with the sausage we bought in Castelrotto and some instant coffee for breakfast. Oh, and lots of goodies at a bakery for breakfast! Rain was forecast for around 7:00pm so after doing laundry we went up to the roof terrace to drink some of the pinot grigio we bought yesterday. Wine is less expensive than beer here so we’re trying to keep it stocked.

We have a peekaboo water view from our room. When you can see it, that is. We went from sunny to cloudy to rainy and where’s the lake?

Day 3: Varenna and Villa Melzi

It actually rained today, but not too heavily while we were out and about. We took the car ferry to Varenna — MUCH easier than the ferry here — to scope out the train station for when we leave to check out the village. (We like to figure out where we’re going when we’re not hauling luggage and stressed about catching the train.) 

Varenna
A view of Varenna on the walk from the port.

It still wasn’t raining much so we went to Villa Melzi to wander around the gardens. 

manmade pond near lakeshore

We had pizza for dinner at Forma e Gusto. Like many restaurants around here they don’t take reservations so we joined the queue before they opened. 

Day 4: Rain and Shopping

Since it was supposed to rain most of the day wes went out early for a walk, down the Serbelloni steps and up the Monastero steps.

At a shop called Rolando I found the perfect modern paisley wrap in shades of gray (I am a sucker for things paisley). Half cashmere and half wool, very light weight, on sale for €60. Score! Not all of Bellagio is steep hills. The waterfront is flat and it’s relatively flat at the peak of the hill, which is where we stayed. The bit in between is a workout!

We bought breakfast and wine too. We ate our sausage and cheese for dinner, followed by food poisoning. Yuck. We shared the ferry the following morning (thankfully the food poisoning wasn’t THAT bad) with a classic car tour group. And saw snow on the Alps. 

Essentials​

Lodging

Our studio at Residence la Limonera was spacious, clean, and comfortable, with a peek at the lake through a window and a nice little kitchen. And we had the smallest room. Friendly, helpful host too. It was great to have some outdoor space to move about. Our suite didn’t have a dedicated outdoor space but all the other rooms did, and there was plenty of shared space. The WiFi dropped some, which might be frustrating if you were trying to work. The smart card that opens the doors and enables the electricity is finicky but works. There were good restaurants and supermarkets nearby.

Dining

We made reservations for dinner at Bilacus for our first night. We shared a burrata with caponata and a local ham appetizer. Then had catch of the day (amberjack) and guinea fowl. They were excellent and we had a nice chat with our neighbors from Georgia. A complimentary amuse bouche to start and sweets to end. Lunch at Antico Pozzo included a delicious warm octopus salad  and fish ravioli with saffron sauce. The server recognized Americans and asked if we wanted our salads first. (Italians eat them after or with the main course.) Our pizza at Forma e Gusto was also good. 

Transportation

We chose to get to Bellagio by taking the train to Como Lago station (because it was closer to the ferry dock) and the ferry from there. We wanted to take the slow ferry up the lake for the scenery. Good choice. When we left we took the short car ferry to Varenna and took the train from there. Walking around Bellagio is about the only option.