Tour from Como to Bellagio

  • Lake Como

Sailing along Lake Como: the route of villas on the water

From Como to Bellagio amidst luxury villas, natural views and small lakeside villages – what else?

There is a reason why a Hollywood superstar like George Clooney decided to buy a house on Lake Como. Of course, in this case, calling it a house is an understatement since Villa Oleandra is a real jewel with lake-view that few could ever afford.

In any event, there really is more than one reason to traverse half the world and stop right here.  This branch of the lake, the westernmost one, offers such enchanting natural views and landscapes that it is difficult not to fall into temptation. And we can almost see him, ol’ George, standing entranced before such a spectacle and simply asking, “What more could you ask for?”

Indeed, nothing more is needed since what awaits you is a unique and almost indescribable experience. We here, with written words alone, will seek to have you imagine this place but the only way to understand what could have crossed Clooney’s mind is to see the lake with your own eyes.

Perhaps doing so from a privileged vantage point – aboard a boat.

And so, Navigazione Laghi provides the comfortable riverboats in its fleet to transport you on the water, on a voyage of discovery not only of Villa Oleandra but also of all the other luxury villas and resorts along the coast, as well as the picturesque landscapes framing the Lario.

All you have to do is climb aboard and wait for the crossing organised for you begin.

An itinerary to delight: Como, Bellagio and the landscape extending between them

The itinerary proposed by Navigazione Laghi starts from the Como docks, at the southern end of the first basin, then crosses the entire western branch to the centre of the lake, where Bellagio rises in all its captivating beauty.

A single crossing, yet one studded with unique views and scenery, between sublime man-made creations and absolute masterpieces of nature.

So let’s go and discover the stops along the route designed for you.

Como seen from above or from the lake? The dilemma.

If you have ever taken the Como-Brunate funicular railway, you will certainly have been able to admire the city, the lake and the Alps from a privileged position, from what is – not for nothing – called the “balcony of Lake Como”. This bird’s-eye view exposes Como’s fascinating and beautiful sights – the Duomo, the Church of Sant’Abbondio, Palazzo Broletto, the Tempio Voltiano, the first basin

But have you ever tried to observe the same panorama from the exact opposite position? From below, lulled by the waters of the lake, looking towards the land, towards the coast, towards the mountains, towards the city and its buildings?

If you have never done so, perhaps it is time to head to the Navigazione Laghi docks and board one of the departing vessels. Only in this way can you discover an equally-fascinating and evocative perspective, not to be missed.

After you have feasted your eyes on the beauty of Como, turn your gaze towards the lake. Your destination? Bellagio.

A look at the villas on the lake: Villa d’Este, Villa Oleandra and Villa Carlotta

Make yourself comfortable because the crossing to Bellagio will certainly not be time wasted.

Indeed, by remaining on the boat, some of the most picturesque villages on the lake will parade before your eyes, starting with Cernobbio, home to the elegant 16th-century Villa d’Este, which has been a luxury hotel since 1873, with princely furnishings and an incredible Italian garden with lake views.

Heading further up the west coast, you will pass small villages and a plethora of private villas, amongst which you may not notice Villa Oleandra and – who knows? – if you look hard enough, you may even notice a handsome, silver fox sipping his coffee.

Continuing on your way, past villas and extraordinary landscapes, turn your gaze this time to the opposite bank. Here lies the Orrido di Nesso, a natural gorge whose sight has left many visitors to the lake open-mouthed.

But the journey continues in a succession of shores and spectacles worthy of admiration. Our advice, before disembarking at Bellagio, is to direct your eyes west one last time, towards Tremezzo where Villa Carlotta dominates the landscape, concealing a splendid botanical garden within.

Before you’ve even had time to recover from your amazement, you will hear the boat pull up to the jetty, where the Navigazione Laghi staff will help you disembark and welcome you to the Pearl of the Lario.

So, welcome to Bellagio!

Bellagio: at Villa Melzi in the footsteps of artists and emperors

Here is the much sought-after destination, the most charming little town in the Lake Como region and the best and most romantic spot in the whole basin. Indeed, Bellagio is located right on the tip of the promontory that divides the lake into its two branches of Como and Lecco.

In short, here is where you will step onto solid ground, eager to move through the picturesque alleyways of the village, the colourful houses, the quaint stairways, the little shops, the historic churches and little restaurants where you can delight in excellent local dishes.

But, come to think of it, after the crossing, you may feel like visiting one of those outlandish villas that you could only glimpse along the way. Never fear – Bellagio is the home of many villas that Lombard nobles and rich bourgeoisie built here between the 18th and 19th centuries.

One standout? Villa Melzi.

Built in the early-19th century in the neoclassical style by artists, architects, botanists and decorators, the villa is surrounded by a splendid English garden dotted with statues. It was here that Count Melzi d’Eril hosted none other than Napoleon Bonaparte, whilst pianist and composer Franz Liszt, along with writers, artists and poets of all kinds, loved to seek inspiration surrounded by the plants in the garden.

From here, the Navigazione Laghi jetty is only a 15-minute walk. One last stroll before boarding the riverboat for the return crossing to Como.

It is then, in the calm of the lake and with the breeze on your face, will you think back on your day and, with a smile, enjoy the final glimpses of Lake Como.


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