We left the Langhe and headed up to Lake Como (Lago Como). We were staying in the small town of Lennezo, a short drive from Bellagio.
Bellagio is sometimes referred to as the "pearl" of Lake Como. A famous famous resort on the lake, the town runs along the lake and part way up the slopes.
We thought it would be so easy to drive in and see Bellagio. Well we found that parking is a major problem in Bellagio so our trips by car were limited.
Lake Como is a long lake - about 50 km in length. Near the southern end the lake divides in two two sections and Bellagio sits on the promontory between the two sections as they join the lake.
There is frequent boat service connecting the towns of Lenno, Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta, Cadenabbia, Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna.
We stayed at the Hotel Aurora in Lezzeno. No problem not driving out to get a dinner at night, as the meals served at the hotel were among the best we have had. We especially liked their prosecco - at 8 Euro a bottle it was a real treat.
The rooms are comfortable, and the hotel faces the lake. The road between the hotel itself and the waterfront is the lake road and during the day cars clip along the road at a good clip. But at night all was quiet.
They have canoes and the like for their guests to use at no charge so you have the opportunity to get out and be on the lake.
Chris took this to heart and also decided to arrange for water skiing. This is the place to do it as Piero Gregoria, one of the owners of the hotel, is a trainer for the Italian National Team for ten years.
It just took a couple of tries and Chris was up on his skis and for the next half an hour, he was the man on the lake.
We spend a day taking the boats to the various towns and of course, touring some of the villas.
The most impressive is the Villa del Balbianello located in Lenno, which was just across the lake from Lennezo. It is a real boat experience to get there. The ferry from Lennezo to Lenno, and then a walk down along the water to the small dock where a private boat takes you to the landing at the Villa. It was explained to us when we were there, this arriving by boat has been the method of accessing the Villa ever since it was built.
|Villa Balbianello - the boats dock and you walk up to the Villa for the tour.||Loggia of the Villa Balbianello|
The Villa and the Loggia were built at the end of the 1700`s when Cardinal Durini acquired the peninsula on the lake. We wanted to build a quiet summer residence. Until the 16th Century, a group of monks occupied the place. The narrow towers of the church remain as part of the Villa.
Durini`s nephew acquired the Villa, and while he was in exile in Belgium, he sold it to his friend Giuseppe Arconati Visconti. They turned the Villa into a magnificent summer house. As that family died out, it was sold to an American, and then eventually to Guido Monzino, a business man from Milan. He restored the Villa and used it to house items he brought back from his various travels. He was into mountain climbing and other ventures.
We took the boat down to Como and spent the day in this interesting town. At one point we were not going to go here. But luckily we listened to the advice we received and took the city in.
The historic centre is nicely contained. The streets have good quality stores and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from.
The town closes up from 12:30 so plan your time accordingly when traveling. In hindsight, we should have take the fast ferry down and that would have gotten us to Como well before the noon closing.
The Cathedral opens up again at 3:00 pm and it is quite worth a visit. The outside is very impressive because of the sculptures,but inside there is great contrast of colours and it is very large.
Chris and Carmen took the funicular to the top and it affords stunning views of the lake.