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Bellagio Bucket List: 10 Must-Do Activities in one of the Most Picturesque Town in Italy

Author and Host

Martina Tortora

Bellagio is one of the most picturesque town in Italy, located on the stunning shores of Lake Como. With its breathtaking views, charming streets, and vibrant atmosphere, Bellagio is a true must-visit destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience.

In this article, I have curated the ultimate Bellagio bucket list, featuring 10 must-do activities that will make your visit to this enchanting town truly exceptional. Whether you’re a lover of art and culture, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking to indulge in the finest Italian cuisine, Bellagio has something to offer for everyone.

Join me as I dive into the rich history, natural beauty, and sumptuous delights of Bellagio. Get ready to check off each item on your Bellagio bucket list and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Exploring Bellagio’s charming streets and architecture

One of the most delightful experiences in Bellagio is simply strolling through its charming streets, lined with colorful buildings and adorned with flower-filled balconies. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine alleys, where every turn reveals a new picturesque scene.

restaurant surrounded by trees

As you wander, be sure to take in the town’s stunning architecture. From elegant neoclassical villas to medieval stone structures, Bellagio is a treasure trove of architectural wonders. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Villa Giulia, a magnificent 19th-century mansion set amidst lush gardens. Its grandeur and elegance will transport you to a bygone era of opulence.

A visit to Piazza della Chiesa is also a must. This vibrant square is the heart of Bellagio, where locals gather, and visitors can soak in the lively atmosphere. Admire the beautiful Basilica di San Giacomo, an architectural masterpiece that showcases a harmonious blend of Gothic and Romanesque styles.

Villa Serbelloni

No visit to Bellagio would be complete without exploring the exquisite Villa Serbelloni. Nestled on a hilltop overlooking Lake Como, this magnificent villa offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Stroll through its meticulously manicured gardens, adorned with vibrant flowers and ancient statues, and let the tranquility of the setting wash over you.

File:Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Como, Lombardia, Italy - panoramio.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The villa itself is a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture, with grand halls and opulent furnishings. Take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating history and the influential figures who once called it home. As you explore, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a world of elegance and refinement.

Tower of the Arts

For a panoramic view of Bellagio and its stunning surroundings, a visit to the Tower of the Arts is a must. Climb the winding staircase to reach the top, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. From here, you can admire the shimmering waters of Lake Como, the lush greenery of the surrounding hills, and the charming rooftops of Bellagio.

Once you’ve taken in the view, descend to the lower levels of the tower to explore the art galleries. Here, you can admire works by local artists, showcasing the vibrant artistic scene that thrives in Bellagio.

Visiting the beautiful gardens of Villa Melzi

Escape the hustle and bustle of the town by venturing to the serene gardens of Villa Melzi. Located on the lakeshore, these meticulously manicured gardens offer a peaceful retreat amidst nature’s splendor. Take a leisurely stroll along winding paths lined with exotic plants and colorful flowers, or simply find a quiet spot to sit and soak in the beauty of your surroundings.

View of bridge and reflections at the Gardens of Villa Mel… | Flickr

The highlight of the gardens is undoubtedly the neoclassical Villa Melzi itself. Admire its graceful architecture and explore the interiors, adorned with exquisite artworks and furnishings. As you wander through the villa’s rooms, you’ll feel a sense of tranquility and refinement that perfectly complements the natural beauty of the gardens.

Punta Spartivento

For nature enthusiasts, a visit to Punta Spartivento is a must. This scenic promontory offers panoramic views of Lake Como, with its crystal-clear waters stretching out before you. Take a leisurely hike along the trails that wind through the area, surrounded by lush vegetation and the soothing sounds of nature.

Lake Como @ Punta Spartivento @ Bellagio | Guilhem Vellut | Flickr

As you explore Punta Spartivento, keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that calls this place home. From colorful birds to graceful deer, the area is a haven for nature lovers and photographers alike. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas and the moments of tranquility that make this place truly special.

Bellagio’s churches

Bellagio is home to several beautiful churches that are worth a visit for their architectural beauty and historical significance. 

Church of San Giacomo

La Church of San Giacomo stands as a splendid example of Romanesque-Lombard art (12th century), constructed between 1075 and 1125 by the Masters of Como.

Externally, the church, despite the 20th-century restoration work, reflects the characteristics of Como’s Romanesque architecture. The building is entirely made of gray stone, featuring three naves, adorned with decorated apses bearing hanging arches, and a robust 16th-century bell tower.

File:Bellagio - basilica di San Giacomo - 202209062320 3.jpeg - Wikimedia Commons

The interiors house numerous artistic works, including paintings, altar pieces, and statues. Notably:

  • Mosaics from the early 1900s
  • A rich altar from the late 1500s
  • An archaic Crucifix from the 12th century
  • The Foppa triptych (1432)
  • The “Deposed Christ,” a polychrome wooden statue from the Spanish Baroque school
  • Paintings depicting Saints and the Education of the Virgin
  • A canvas portraying the Immaculate, attributed to the painter siblings Recchi
  • A painting depicting a Black Madonna with Saints John the Baptist, James, Francis, and Jerome
  • A Deposition from the school of Perugino, beneath which rests a 17th-century statue of the Dead Christ
  • The Holy Family, recently attributed to Ursula Caccia (daughter of Moncalvo)
  • A medieval stone cross (10th/12th century) and the canvas depicting the Martyrdom of Saint James by Argonio Aragonio (1607)
  • The Baptistry, with a recently crafted mosaic, inspired by the Baptism of Christ painted by Bergognone for the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Melegnano.

Church of San Giorgio

The Church of San Giorgio is a small chapel located in the upper part of the historic center of Bellagio, just a few steps away from the town hall.

Similar to the Basilica of San Giacomo, the city’s main church, it also dates back to the 11th-12th century (specifically between 1080 and 1120).

Chiesa di San Giorgio (Bellagio) - Wikipedia

The style of the era in which it was constructed is evident in the perimeter walls made of stone blocks, the spiral windows, and the small portal. Originally, the apse and the altar faced east, but they were later moved to the opposite side, consequently shifting the entrance towards the street.

The bell tower, which extends over Salita Genazzini, is quite distinctive, built with an overhanging section.

Upon examining its interiors, one will notice an intriguing 11th-century fresco depicting the Madonna of the Belt (a representation of the Virgin Mary giving her belt to a monk), as well as a wooden statue of the same figure. This statue is carried in procession on the second Sunday of September as a tradition. Both of these representations reflect a deeply cherished local cult, affirmed by the presence of the Confraternity of the Belted Ones, headquartered in the adjoining oratory of the church.

Church of Santa Maria di Loppia

The Church of Santa Maria in Loppia has medieval origins. It was likely founded towards the end of the 10th century and underwent significant modifications over the years.

In its immediate vicinity, the Benedictine nuns, who were the owners of the property, built their convent. The buildings were abandoned in the 17th century, and the ownership passed into private hands.

Today, the church is part of the Villa Gerli park and is not open to the public.

Church of San Giovanni Battista

The Church of San Giovanni Battista in Bellagio was constructed starting from 1584 (partly in 1685) on the site where a previous temple dedicated to St. John the Baptist had stood, dating back at least to the 10th century.

On the beautiful lakeside square, adjacent to the charming San Giovanni dock, stands its magnificent Baroque façade, accompanied by a bell tower with five bells.

If you have the opportunity to admire its interiors, don’t miss the beautiful 17th-century wooden statue of the Assumption of the Virgin in the first chapel on the right, as well as the relics of Saint Primo. The simulacrum of Saint Primo is displayed within a case adorned with decorative elements in gilded bronze.

File:SanGiovanniBellagio.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, near the sanctuary, the statue of Saint John the Baptist captures attention. Created in 1974 by Giovanni Tavani using Carrara marble, it is flanked by the main altar adorned with a golden wooden altarpiece depicting the Risen Christ, and a 17th-century marble statue of the Immaculate attributed to Ercole Ferrata from Pellio d’Intelvi.

The latter work was donated to the Church of San Giovanni by Countess Melzi d’Eryl at the end of the 19th century.

Lastly, it’s worth noting an altar painting depicting the Resurrected Christ and Saints, a work from 1530 attributed to Gaudenzio Ferrari and gifted by the Frizioni family. The counter-façade holds the organ and a fresco of the Baptism of Christ, while the nave’s vault is adorned with paintings depicting four episodes from the life of John the Baptist, the Transfiguration, and the Evangelists.

Church of Santa Maria Annunciata in Breno

The Church of Santa Maria Annunciata in Breno stands in Visgnola, another small hamlet of Bellagio, on the side of the promontory overlooking the Lecco branch of the lake.

The origins of the building are unknown. The church is mentioned in pastoral visit records from the 16th century, but the actual founding date remains unclear. What is known is that it became the parish church in the second half of the 19th century, replacing the Church of San Martino.

Around its construction, there even exists a legend that traces its origins back to the will of a lord from the Castle (now Villa Serbelloni), who, at the Fountain of Avello (located next to the current church in later times, from which water flows from the mouths of two granite heads in human form), was supposedly miraculously healed of a leg ailment.

Moved by the grace he received, he ordered his men to dig in front of the fountain. This led to the discovery of an image of Mary with the Child, which is said to be still visible beneath the central window above the choir. From there, the decision was made to build a church in that spot and dedicate it to the Madonna.

Inside, you can admire beautiful late 15th-century canvas paintings and a multi-paneled icon behind the main altar, the work of a local artist.

Church of Santi Ambrogio e Materno

The Church of Saints Ambrogio and Materno is located in Civenna, a small hamlet of Bellagio at the foot of the Ghisallo Pass.
 
The building dates back to the 17th century and is situated in an elevated position above the road level. Access is granted through a double flight of stairs: the first leading to a small square, and the second providing direct access to the building.
 
The façade is noteworthy, divided into two levels and topped by a pediment. In the lower section, a portal is flanked by a short pronaos with columns and a pediment featuring a lowered arch. To the left, there is a curvilinear structure housing the chapel dedicated to the Madonna of Lourdes.
 
Along the left side, the tou can admire imposing bell tower. 
 

Visiting Bellagio’s museums 

 

When visiting Bellagio, exploring its rich cultural heritage is a must. Start your journey by immersing yourself in the town’s museums, which offer a glimpse into its fascinating past. The Museo degli Strumenti per la Navigazione, located on the waterfront, houses an impressive collection of navigational instruments dating back centuries. As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Bellagio’s historical significance as a hub for trade and exploration.

Another museum worth visiting is the Museo del Paesaggio, which showcases the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Here, you can admire stunning landscapes captured by renowned Italian artists, allowing you to connect with the soul-stirring beauty that has inspired countless painters throughout history.

For art enthusiasts, the Fondazione Antonio Sant’Elia is a must-see. Dedicated to the works of the visionary architect Antonio Sant’Elia, this museum offers a unique insight into his futuristic designs and their impact on modern architecture. Prepare to be amazed by his visionary concepts and innovative approach to urban planning.

Indulging in the local cuisine

No visit to Bellagio would be complete without savoring the delectable flavors of Italian cuisine. From traditional trattorias to gourmet restaurants, the town offers a wide range of dining options to suit every palate. 

Here’s some of the dishes you should not miss during your vacation:

Missoltini with polentaThe first of the typical dishes to taste in Bellagio is certainly a classic of Lake Como: missoltini with polenta. It is a lake fish, the shad, which is first dried, then cooked on the grill and served with plenty of vinegar.

Risotto with perchAnother typical dish of Lake Como is risotto with perch. This too is a must try: the fish fillets are served cooked in butter and placed on a bed of rice.

Polenta Uncia:  The typical polenta of Bellagio and its surroundings is polenta uncia, or polenta taragna seasoned with melted butter, garlic, sage and cheese. It is a rustic dish, usually served in mountain huts or prepared by the Alpini during village festivals.

TocAnother typical dish of Lake Como based on polenta is also the Toc. The latter is a dish that is not always found on the menu because it is often prepared to order: it is based on polenta, cheese and butter and is usually eaten with missoltini or boiled hen. Its peculiarity is how it is eaten: it is in fact a traditional dish and usually the cauldron is placed in the center of the table and everyone draws from the cauldron with a wooden spoon and takes a “touch” with their hands, i.e. a piece , from which the name Toc derives.

File:Polenta con funghi.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Shopping for local crafts and souvenirs

As you explore the charming streets of Bellagio, be sure to set aside some time for shopping. The town is home to numerous boutiques and artisan shops, where you can find unique treasures to take home as souvenirs.

Browse through shops selling locally made crafts, such as intricate lacework, hand-painted ceramics, and handmade leather goods. 

One of the most famous local crafts in Bellagio is Quelli della Pelle, using high quality leathers, selected in Tuscan tanneries, Quelli della Pelle produces and sells a vast assortment of items.

These items reflect the rich artistic traditions of the region and make for beautifully crafted keepsakes.

You’ll also find a wide range of gourmet products, including locally produced olive oil, cheeses, and preserves. These culinary delights are perfect for bringing a taste of Bellagio back home and sharing the flavors of your journey with friends and family.

Relaxing in Bellagio’s spas

Outside the frenzy of the town and the noise of the ferries that dock at the port, inside the sweet silence of the fingers that, massaging you, loosen your neck, back and muscles.

Outside the bright colors of spring, the mountains and the lake, inside the sober colors of the towels and the steam released by the sauna..

Outside the scent of coffee, pizza and wine, inside the heady scents of oils and creams.

Now close your eyes, think of the pleasant sensation of wellness treatments and relaxing massages and choose the SPA where you would like to be, perhaps in good company. In fact, Bellagio has several spas where you can relax with a breathtaking view.

Conclusion: Why should you visit Bellagio?

Bellagio truly is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a lover of art and culture, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a taste of authentic Italian cuisine, this picturesque town will captivate your heart and leave you with lasting memories.

From exploring its museums and charming streets to indulging in the local cuisine and wine, each activity on this Bellagio bucket list offers a unique experience that showcases the town’s rich heritage and natural beauty.

So, pack your bags, embark on a journey to Bellagio, and let yourself be enchanted by the breathtaking scenery, vibrant culture, and sumptuous delights that await you in this captivating town on the shores of Lake Como. Your Bellagio bucket list adventure awaits!

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