An experiment that you can try at home: Say to a friend that you're about to go to the Italian Lakes. I hereby predict the following reactions:
- Jaw will drop
- Mouth will form perfect round 'O'
- Involuntary gasp/outlet of breath
- "Can I come too?"
After flying in to Milan we trundled in the inimitable Italian-railway style up to Como, where we switched to a small bus which jostled, beeped and wiggled along the treacherous lakeside road to Bellagio, one of the lakes' most well-known towns. Packed with hideously-expensive designer boutiques, Bellagio seemed particularly popular with wealthy older Americans. But as usual for Italy, the food was delicious, never overpriced, and the ambience was warm and friendly.
Like so many of our favourite places, Bellagio is virtually car-free; most of the "streets" are actually stepped alleyways leading up from the edge of Lake Como. It makes for lovely views, particularly as the sun sets.
We had no real agenda for our first few days in Bellagio, mainly the plan was to soak up as much relaxed Italian goodness as possible. This proved very easy to achieve! Here's the view across to the village of Varenna:
We had planned to pick up a hire car and use it to explore the area a bit more, but upon arrival at the car hire place we discovered our printed opening hours didn't actually match up with reality, and it being Saturday midday, we'd not be able to pick up the car for almost 48 hours! Although we had been looking forward to scooting our little Cinquecento around, we were not too dismayed - we'd be able to get a full refund due to the hire company's mistake, and our brief experience of the roads around the lakes had shown them to be hugely stressful, requiring the absolute attention of the driver. Hardly ideal for sightseeing. Instead we would rely on the frequent ferries that service all the towns - oh and Bec managed to find a Cinquecento in Bellagio anyway!