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Bellagio, Province of Como, Lombardy

This fine resort situated is on a narrow promontory where Lake Como subdivides into two branches, with the lake on both sides; the town has an enchanting covered promenade along the lakefront, and a picturesque medieval borough, with narrow alleys rising to the top.

Info

  • Altitude: 229 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 3,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 22021
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 031
  • Patron Saint: St. Stephen, celebrated on 26th December
  • Frazioni & Localities: Aureggio, Borgo, Brogno, Cagnanica, Casate, Cascine Gallasco, Cernobbio, Chevrio, Guello, Guggiate, Loppia, Mulini del Perlo, Nèèr, Oliverio, Pescallo, Prada, Pra' Filippo, Regatola, Rovenza, San Giovanni, San Vito, San Vittore, Scegola, Suira, Taronico, Vergonese, Visgnola
  • How to reach it: by road, or also by ferryboat from the other ports around Lake Como.
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Provinces of Lombardy

History - Antiquity

The area was inhabited in Paleolithic times, over 30,000 years ago; in the 5th century BC a small settlement existed wherte Bellagio is today, and according to Roman historian Livy in 520 BC a celtic tribe invaded the lands around Lake Como, led by a Belloveso, from whom the name Bellagio would derive. In Roman times the lake, at the time called Larium, was colonized with Latin populations, and later in 59 BC Julius Caesar founded Novum Comun with more colonists, this time also from Sicily, specialized in the building of boats and exploitation of waterways. The romans also introduced the cultivation of olive trees, and built villas for their holiday retreats.

History - the Middle Ages

Bellagio was first under the Lombards, then in the 10th century it was donated to the bishops of Como. Bellagio very soon started to fight for its autonomy, and was repeatedly attacked by Como: At that time the shipyards of Bellagio developed a kind of war boat suitable to the lake waters, called Schifo. In the late 13th century finally the area came under the control of the Visconti family of Milan, who established a kind of governor called Capitano del Lario, who was a kind of police authority on the lake. In the 15th century the fortress of Bellagio was a refuge for the celebrated condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni and later for Ludovico il Moro.

History - Modern Times

In 1533 Francesco Sfondrati bought the fiefdom taking the title of Conte della Riviera and for 2 centuries his descendants contributed to the progress of economy, developing the silk and candle industries and promoting trade. In 1788 after the extinction of the Sfondrati family the fiefdom passed to Duke Alessandro Serbelloni.

Under the Napoleonic domination, Francesco Melzi, Duke of Lodi bought a magnificent villa along the western coast of Bellagio, which became a fashionable meeting place for the Lombard aristocracy, visited also by emperors as Ferdinand I in 1838, minister Metternich, Duke Ranieri of Monaco, who came to Bellagio on the Lario, the first steamship on the lake. Among the most famous guests of Bellagio were Italian writers Silvio Pellico and Ippolito Nievo, and musician Franz Liszt who spent here his honeymoon with M.me de Flavigny. Meanwhile, the ancient palaces were changed into refined hotels and residences for an elite tourism.

What to see

  • Villa Serbelloni, occupying a large part of the promontory top, with a wide park and astonishing lake view;
  • Neo-classical Villa Melzi, built in Napoleonic times, with a large park on the lake;
  • On top of the town, the 12th-century church of San Giacomo, in the Romanesque-Lombard style, with an ancient pulpit, a painting representing the Deposition of Christ of the Perugino school and a tryptich made in 1432.

Where to stay