Weekend travel around Europe is often influenced for Trev and I by several factors, including expectations of where we are going, stress levels in the weeks prior to the trip, our luck at booking in the right hotel, dinner reservations, etc. Although we’ve appreciated the unique experience of each place we’ve visited since our move to London, only the rare few are truly enjoyable, relaxing, and effortless, beginning to end. Our 4-day trip to Lake Como was one of these.
For each of our birthday’s this year, we decided we’d take a Friday/Monday off over the birthday weekend, and pick a place we’d each wanted to see. Trev’s had an affinity for the lake life since I’ve known him. While living in New England, we often made weekend trips up to the beautiful lakes in New Hampshire, and recently visited the England Lakes District earlier this year, so it was no surprise that Lake Como took the win for Trev’s 31st birthday weekend away.
We stayed at the Hotel Du Lac in Bellagio; a cozy, clean, friendly hotel right on the waterfront, in the center of town. The location was ideal for accessing the ferry (located literally right across the street), and for beautiful lakefront views from their balcony lounge. Bellagio has beautiful pathways along the lake, lined with brilliantly colored potted flowers, and intricate statues.
Our top 5 winners while in Bellagio (in no specific order) were:
- The Botanical Gardens: Within a 5 minute walk from the ferry port, you can expore the beautiful botanical gardens of i Giardini di Villa Melzi for a small fee. (http://www.giardinidivillamelzi.it/) The gardens have a long line of history dating back to 1808, and beautiful architecture and vegetation to explore on your walk.
- Boat Rental: Through Lake by Boat in Bellagio, Trev and I were able to rent our own private boat out for a couple of hours one afternoon, to explore the alcoves of Lake Como. We were not required to have a license to drive a boat, and after a quick 15 minute lesson, felt perfectly comfortable taking the boat out on our own. This was the best way to enjoy the sunshine, and some peace and quiet as we drove the coast admiring Lakeside Mansions, such as George Clooney’s Villa Oleandra. (Unfortunately, he didn’t appear to be in… I checked every window).
- Daytrip to Varenna: this stunning little coastal town was a major highlight of our trip. We took a short, 10-15 minutes ferry ride from Bellagio across the lake to Varenna, and as soon as the town came into clear view, we were excited for the visit. With it’s colorful architectural landscape glistening off of the blue lake water, it’s a sight to remember. Here, we walked around admiring the beautiful character of the town, stopped into a couple of clothing boutiques to try our hats at Italian lake-wear, enjoyed an amazing lunch at Il Cavatappi, and explored another beautiful, private garden; Villa Monastero. This garden was so beautiful, that I actually Facetimed my mom during the walk, to show her around. 🙂 You’re welcome, mom.
The Restaurants!! In Bellagio, we enjoyed meal after meal of the most incredibly, delicious Italian affair. To our surprise, after suspicion of the flavor of a lake fish, the seafood was unbelievable. Because they each deserve it, I’ll call out our 3 dinner spots and the unique story we have for each:
- Salice Blu:This top spot is a bit of a walk uphill, on the outskirts of Bellagio. Because of it’s unique location, Chef Luigi actually LEFT his kitchen (perfectly timed), hopped into his white van, and picked us up from our hotel, bringing us to and from the restaurant! Full of character and laughs, this was a great way to get to know the man who’d be cooking our delicious dinner that evening.
- Ristorante Bilacus: Best meal award, hands down! This is the only place I have ever seen my husband order an entrée a second time, in the same sitting. His spaghetti and clams dish was so fantastic, it has ruined the chance of us ever ordering it elsewhere, for the assumed disappointment that would follow.
- Ristorante Terrazza Barchetta: By way of luck, we got into this fully booked restaurant at the last minute on our last night in Bellagio. They had originally turned us away, and then the hostess chased us down in the street saying that they had 1 table open for an hour, if we didn’t mind the rush. We graciously agreed, and I had NO problem devouring the most incredible truffle pasta dish within my allotted amount of time. 🙂
- Late night dancing at the Gelateria bar. Well – this one we kind of created ourselves. But basically, there is an outdoor bar and gelateria on the water, where we found ourselves each night after dinner ordering gelato and limoncello, and dancing to the local band playing on the shore. But it’s ok. Nobody judges you in Lake Como.
Lake Como is a lover’s getaway for all things relaxing, delicious and charmingly beautiful.