I hadn’t seen my parents since I left Ohio in February so when they came to visit this August I was thrilled to show them my life here, my new corner of the world. In two weeks we went up to the mountains, pit-stopped in Florence and San Gimignano and toured Rome, but we were also sure to take advantage of closer-to-home attractions.
Though the first place that comes to mind is Milan, my favorite close-to-home getaway is to the Lake District. Popular for years among Italian, French and especially German tourists, the area came onto American’s radar more recently when George Clooney and other stars moved in, buying summer villas on the lake.
There is no shortage of beautiful little towns to visit in the Lake District, some of my favorites are Lecco and Varenna for their close proximity, Como for its ritziness and Colico for the beach. This time, however, we went straight to Bellagio.
No, not the Bellagio Casino and Resort, pronounced bell-ah-GEE-oh, in Vegas, but Bellagio pronounced Bell-ah-JOE – one of the most famous Italian towns perched on the banks of Lake Como, and the inspiration for said Vegas casino.
Bellagio, also known as the pearl of Lake Como, sits on the tip of a peninsula separating the two southern branches of the lakes. With exotic flowers, a mild climate and a year-round gentile breeze, this pearl was famous even in ancient Roman times. Even then the rich were using it as a vacation resort!
We went by car to have more freedom and give my parents more time to rest from the jet lag. On narrow, winding roads we oohed and ahhed at the views of the lake, not to mention the Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s and BMW’s that passed by. You can also arrive by taking a train in to Lecco, Varenna or Como, then taking a ferry across to Bellagio. Either way, the city is meant to be seen on foot. Parking the car we walked through the clean stone streets, climbing higher into the town as we moved away from the water.
After our stroll we drove the car onto the ferry for a different point-of-view, waving goodbye to our five-hour resort-like stay and heading to another lake town for dinner!