When we talk about Lake Como we mean the most beautiful and evocative natural collection of lake corners in the world. A tour of the lake is always a unique and introuvable aesthetic experience and it is hard not to fall in love with it instantly.
But not everyone knows that beyond the lake there is much more!
On the way to the pearl of Lake Como, Bellagio, we meet two suggestive places in the mountains that worth a visit!
Leaving Milan behind, along Strada Statale 36 towards Monza-Lecco, we exit the main road at the junction for Cesana Brianza, just before Lecco. Then we drive towards Magreglio, right in the middle of the Larian triangle.
Our first stop is the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Ghisallo in Magreglio. Here the great cycling and religious feeling meet in the breathtaking context of the lake. We are in fact right in the middle of the two branches of Lake Como and from here the view is lovely. Once arrived just look out from the balcony, the view of the lake and the Grigne (the top of the mountains) is enchanting.
From the beginning of the twentieth century, the sanctuary became the destination of many professional and amateur cyclists. From there passes a very challenging path where every year competitions are held. The Madonna del Ghisallo is the official patron saint of Italian cyclists, that’s why the interior of the sanctuary is really unusual. It houses hundreds of relics of cyclists of all times like bicycles, shirts, medals, pennants and cups.
In 2006, right next to the square of the sanctuary, the Cycling Museum was inaugurated and it became a favourite destination for cycling enthusiasts.
Cycling Museum Ghisallo
Address: Via Adua, 1, 22030 Magreglio CO
It’s almost time to have lunch 😉, so we continue our journey to the restaurant Trattoria Baita Belvedere, located in the hamlet of Chevrio in the municipality of Bellagio, at 632 meters asl. Between pastures and narrow streets the restaurant offers a large and comfortable parking. Once there you are immediately enchanted by the beautiful view. The outdoor terrace is something wonderful and deserves excellence, giving a breathtaking view of Bellagio and the two branches of Lake Como embraced by the surrounding mountains.
Baita Belvedere is furnished in mountain style and offers local specialties cooked with simplicity and authenticity. Polenta, wild boar, pizzoccheri, tagliatelle with venison, cheese, cured meats and wild berries. Don’t forget to book in advance.
From Baita Belvedere we continue towards Bellagio which is only 10 minutes away. The two famous branches of Lake Como at some point meet and leave space to one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Bellagio is a poetic place, with a thousand-year history (Julius Caesar also passed by) and it has to be visited at least once in life.
💡 Interesting to know: in this place the Romans used to cultivate many olive trees and laurels, from the latter (latin name is laura) comes the name of Lake Como, Larius (Lario)
Sometimes parking in Bellagio can be a problem. Do not go crazy to find parking near the center, the center is pedestrian and you risk to pass under police cameras. Better park a few meters away and take a walk.
Entering the city center, you will be surprised by the many narrow streets and alleys that descend towards the lake. The most important is a long staircase with many shops of typical products and artisanal souvenir.
The port is located in the lower part of Bellagio. There is an area reserved for pedestrians and to reach it just come down from one of the narrow alleys.
The typical dish of Bellagio is rather robust, polenta with butter and local cheese, called toch. It is generally served during holiday periods, such as winter holidays.
Villa Melzi is one of the main points of interest, located on the western coast of Lake Como. It was built at the beginning of the nineteenth century and is still a private property. It’s possible to visit the beautiful gardens that host a large number of exotic plants and trees. The best time is spring when azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom.
💡 Interesting to know: in Bellagio there is the only Rockefeller Foundation headquarters outside United States. The gardens of Villa Serbelloni, a splendid seventeenth-century villa built on the ruins of a castle that was destroyed, belong to the Rockefeller Foundation and are located on top of the hill nearby the entrance of the village. Today the villa hosts the luxury Hotel Villa Serbelloni and home to conferences and courses of the Foundation. The villa can not be freely visited but tourists can visit its gardens with a guide.
Finally, I recommend you reach the most spectacular point of Bellagio: Punta Sparti-Vento. From here you can have a 360° view on both sides of the lake, on the Alpine peaks of Grigna, Grignone and Grignetta. You can not get lost, just follow the directions to the tip.
Take the time to walk through the old town and do not forget to take a picture from the top of the characteristic Salita Serbelloni. From the viewpoint in Via Giuseppe Garibaldi you can catch a wonderful shot with colorful buildings and unique shops.
Have a nice trip 😉