Seen from the water, Bellagio is undoubtedly the best-looking resort on the Lake. This is partly to do with its unique location – neither on the eastern nor the western side but on a promontory in the middle, where the Lake divides into two ‘legs’. You might say that Bellagio nestles in the crotch of the Lake. On the other hand, you might not.
Because it’s located a little way down the western side of the promontory, Bellagio faces you ‘square on’ as you approach it on a ferry boat from Menaggio or Cadenabbia. And because the hills on the promontory are (relatively) small, the town’s handsome arrangement of red roofs and yellow, pink and white walls sits rather grandly in front of gently rounded, green slopes. It’s one of the best examples of that harmony of nature and architecture that gives Lake Como its special appeal – striking enough to earn Bellagio the title of ‘the pearl of the Lake’. But just to ward off any potential challenger for the title, the high mountains of the eastern branch contribute a spectacular, distant background to complete the perfect view.
Its location also provides Bellagio itself with spectacular views, towards the northern end of the lake and across and down both branches. These can be enjoyed from a small shingle beach at the end of the promontory – the Punta Spartivento. However, we’ve usually not found many other visitors there. They may prefer the ‘riverside’ bathing centre, with a beach bar, where you can hire sunbeds.
Bellagio has enchanted some of the greatest musicians and writers, including Longfellow, Shelley, Stendhal, Flaubert, Faure, Giordano, Liszt and Toscanini. Even Mark Twain, who preferred Lake Tahoe, described an evening in Bellagio as a ‘paradise of tranquil repose’. And it remains the favourite spot on the Lake for many American visitors, its popularity reflected in the creation of a ‘tribute’ Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas
But Bellagio is smart as well as good looking. For example, its tourist office is right there alongside the ferry point. Trip up as you disembark from the boat and you’re in danger of landing on a pile of brochures. Of course, that’s an exaggeration. But if it weren’t I could predict which brochure you’d land on – Bellagio Dove, the official Guide; because everything you need to know about the place is crammed into that comprehensive document.
The information includes details of hotels and other accommodation; restaurants; addresses for sporting activities, and many other services. So complete is it that it even includes the location of the public toilet in its list of ‘useful addresses’. But don’t worry if you’re desperate and haven’t got time to leaf through the booklet. The location of the toilet is right there, with the ferry terminal and the tourist information office. That’s how smart Bellagio is.
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