Just when I thought this blog was dying a slow death… I’ve been inspired to write again. I guess part of the reason I stopped is time – in London I seldom have 2 hours at home on a weekend to write, and also reviewing restaurants and events sort of got dull after a while.
However… my weekend getaway last month was THAT amazing that I felt compelled to write about it. Somehow, Lake Como has never been on my bucket list. I have no idea why – I think it’s completely underrated and is probably the prettiest place I’ve ever been.
Situated only around an hour away from Milan, it’s really easy to get to and it is the perfect setting for a relaxing weekend. We had a bank holiday for Worker’s Day a few weeks ago, so used the extra day as an excuse to book this trip. I think a 2 day weekend would be a little too short considering the driving you have to do – but 3 days was perfect.
What many people don’t know is that Lake Como is massive, and it isn’t actually a destination in itself. Rather, there are dozens of little villages and towns dotted around the Lake, and you can choose to stay at any one of them. After a lot of research, I found that Bellagio is widely believed to be the most beautiful village, so we decided to base ourselves there, at the stunning Villa Serbellioni. But more on that in a bit.
Milan has two main airports – Malpensa and Linhate. We flew into Malpensa after work on Friday, and because we were only landing at 10pm,we decided to spend the night close to the airport before heading to Como on Saturday morning. I didn’t want to stay in an airport hotel and really wanted to stay somewhere with character – so we booked this apartment in a little village called Gallarate. The town didn’t have much going for it, but we did find an amazing authentic restaurant – Restaurante Pizzeria La Mimosa – that was willing to keep the kitchen open for us at 11pm. You know it’s authentic when the menu’s in Italian with no English version! We feasted on delicious grilled fish, pasta, and the most amazing tiramisu of my life. In hindsight, this was probably the best meal of the trip.
On Saturday morning, we woke up to the most stunning weather – blue skies and sun. We were so lucky, because the entire week before it had been raining, and it was forecast to rain the entire week after we left. We hopped in our rented Fiat 500 and drove to Como, Lake Como’s main town – about a 45 minute drive (plus another 20 looking for parking!) We decided to have lunch here, and spend some time walking around before heading onto Bellagio.
The vibe was awesome – tons of people on the streets, everyone eating ice cream and enjoying the sun. Once more we had a great meal at a place specialising in salads – La Vita E Bella. Highly recommended. We walked a little further along the lake and braved the looong queue to go up the funicular – for pretty amazing views.
From there, we drove an hour further north on a very twisty hair raising but equally beautiful drive to our hotel, Villa Serbelloni. Initially built as a private villa in the 1800’s, this spectacular hotel benefits from an ideal location (in the heart of the Bellagio town, but also offering unrivalled views across the lake.)
In addition to incredible views, our room was also gorgeous – with a lot of original 1800s furniture and a killer view.
Once we arrived at the hotel, we spent most of our weekend on foot or ferry, exploring Bellagio and surrounds. The town has such a great holiday feel – with many public gardens and viewpoints from which you can enjoy the view.
The city is very walkable – you don’t really need a car. We strolled to Villa Melzi, private gardens with beautiful views of the lake.
That evening, we dined at the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant, Le Mistral. The food and ambiance were both sublime – think glass walls with views onto the lake, and the most delicious food. We even had molecular ice cream made of liquid nitrogen and whipped cream!
The next day, we hopped on a quick ferry to visit Varenna, another small village about 30 minutes from Bellagio. I loved that about Lake Como – all the cute little villages built into the hillside. Varenna was absolutely stunning and very easy to photograph..
I have no idea why Lake Como wasn’t higher up on my bucket list. It was a glorious weekend away and one I would highly recommend. Go!!