This itinerary takes you to know some characteristic hamlets of Bellagio starting from the historical center of the town. In a couple of hours you will have the opportunity to see both sides of the lake (Como and Lecco) and to fully understand the central position of Bellagio.
From the tourist office of Bellagio, located in Piazza Mazzini, we reach the upper part of the town by taking the picturesque stairway "Salita Mella", located just in front of the pier, once known as the Via dei Fiori.
At the end of the slope, we turn right and walk along the lively Via Garibaldi until we reach the Town Hall of Bellagio, an elegant yellow building next to the Romanesque church of San Giorgio (XI century). Just in front of it starts a staircase that, going up gently at first and then going down, will lead you, in about 15 minutes, in the heart of the characteristic village of Pescallo, known as a fishing village and place where the fish market was once held. Around the beginning of the 13th century, the hamlet of Pescallo was one of the three Larian villages able to offer the largest quantity of fish to the market of Como. Let's go through this small village overlooking the branch of Lecco and let's stop for a moment in the small square to admire the wonderful panorama of this part of the lake framed by the mountains; in the background the rocky Grigna (2.409 mt), rich in iron.
In the second small square, a very characteristic corner of this hamlet, you will discover the tiny Church of SS. Biagio and Andrea, surrounded by the houses.
We now follow the carriage road that goes up along pretty private gardens and a field used for floriculture, one of the most important activities, after tourism, of Bellagio, where there are many family-run companies operating in this field and producing mainly outdoor plants sold in Italy and Europe.
Having reached the main road that goes towards Lecco, we turn left and follow the sidewalk that runs alongside a large plot of land cultivated with olive trees. The cultivation of olive trees on Lake Como dates back to Roman times. This tree has perfectly acclimatized and grows luxuriantly on the Bellagine hills, so much so that it has given its name to the hamlet where we are, Oliverio. Lake Como is now the northernmost place in Europe where olive oil is produced; wood is also worked to produce various objects, typical of the local handicraft.
At the end of the sidewalk, on the left, we will notice a beautiful villa; it was built in 1624 by order of the protophysicist Eudemio Camozio who called it Villa Camuzia. At the end of the eighteenth century Count Pietro Venini, from Bellagio, completely restructured it and called it, in honor of his wife, Villa Giulia. The house, of neoclassical cadences, is arranged on three floors with the lower one decorated with ashlar; from the central body protrude two wings. Count Venini bought several lands surrounding the villa and dug the part of the lawn in front of it to create a grassy channel, called "Vialone", which allows to see and access to the two branches of the lake.
We now walk along this wide avenue in all its length.
If, for any reason, it should not be possible to cross the Vialone or if you prefer to lengthen this itinerary a little, we suggest you to go on along the state road for another 50 meters and then take the first small road on the right that passes through the hamlet of Regatola. On the wall of the first house on the left you will notice a plaque in memory of the short stay of the illustrious scientist Alessandro Volta (Como, 1745 - 1827), inventor of the battery (1799), and of the poet Giuseppe Parini. In the initial narrow part you will find on your right some downhill steps that make you cross the heart of Regatola; a pretty hamlet that has survived intact the passage of time.
Both the Vialone and this road join the state road to Como.
Let's cross the road very carefully and, before turning left, to go down towards the hamlet of Guggiate, let's stop near the entrance of Hotel Silvio to admire the spectacle of this part of the lake enclosed by a splendid frame of cypresses.
Turning your back to the lake, on the right, you will notice on the hill a Mausoleum built by the architect Balzaretto in the 19th century for Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli; here is also buried one of the descendants of the Gonzaga family of Mantua, a friend of the owners. This monument is located in the private park of the present Villa Gerli, situated on the lake shore. Beyond the wrought iron gate, on the right, there is a beautiful and secular tree called Liquidambar (Species: Styracyflua, Family: amamelidacee).
Continue on the left until you reach the small square of the hamlet of Guggiate where you will notice the oratory of S. Andrea, flanked by a huge palace, surrounded by walls and with an elegant portal, built in the XVII century by the Ciceri family. From this small square many small roads lead to the hinterland of Bellagio, towards other hamlets.
Let's go back to the state road, cross the river Perlo and turn right to reach the hamlet of S. Giovanni. At the end of the carriage road you will notice, on the left, an ancient tower house with a sundial where the Museum of Navigation Instruments is located, recently opened in Bellagio thanks to the passion of the collector and traveller Gianni Gini. Inside there are more than two hundred precious objects that, in the past centuries, have allowed man to orient himself at sea and to navigate towards new worlds. Among the most interesting instruments in this collection are eighteenth-century Venetian telescopes, compasses, sundials from various eras, a rich series of marine chronometers and a beautiful brass planetarium. The duration of the visit of the Museum of Instruments for Navigation is about 30/60 minutes. The museum is open during the summer season from 10.00 to 13.00 and during the afternoon by appointment only. Entrance fee. For information call +39 031 950309.
Let's now follow the cobbled road and enter the heart of the hamlet of San Giovanni to go down towards the lake. On the right there is the homonymous church, once a parish church and the focal point of the religious life of Bellagio. Little is known about the history of this building; surely it was the first church built on Bellagio soil. Certainly it was already present in the tenth century, but no trace has remained as evidence of that period even if it is assumed that today's oratory, south of the parish church, was built on the foundations of the old building. The new archpriestal of S. Giovanni Battista was built in 1584 and partly in 1685. The present appearance is due to the changes made in the second half of the 18th century. The facade, in baroque style, is flanked by a bell tower with five bells that give a magnificent concert in natural SI2. Inside, the most interesting work that we can still admire is an altarpiece depicting "Christ resurrected among saints and donors", painted by Gaudenzio Ferrari in the sixteenth century, and an Immaculate of the school of Bernini. The church is open only on Saturdays at 18:00 and on Sunday mornings at 10:00 for the celebration of mass. The artificial grotto that can be seen on the square is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and was built in the 1950s by Don Giulio Botta, archpriest of San Giovanni.
In the pier in front of the church are often anchored the typical boats of Lake Como called Lucie that take their name from the main character of Alessandro Manzoni's masterpiece "I Promessi Sposi", set on Lake Como. The boat is surmounted by three arches that allow you to cover it to shelter in case of bad weather or hot sun.
The modern building, pink in color, that you notice on the lake shore on the left is the rowing school that can boast 6 world champions to date. It is a meeting point for all young people who want to try their hand at this sport.
Let's retrace our steps, retracing the same road up to Guggiate. Halfway up the slope, we descend along the first road on the left that leads to the hamlet of Loppia where, on the right, you will find the staircase that leads to the Vialone di Villa Giulia. Beyond the wall, you can see the Romanesque church of Santa Maria di Loppia (end of X century), once with a small cloister destroyed during the construction of the Vialone; now it is part of the Gerli property of which you can admire the beautiful villa on the lake shore, on the left. Built by the Taverna family in the second half of the 18th century, it then passed to the Poldi Pezzoli family who enlarged it by having the two wings added by the architect Giuseppe Balzaretto. By inheritance it passed to Prince Trivulzio and in 1941 it was bought by Count Gerli who took care, in particular, of the restoration of the church of Santa Maria di Loppia.
In the pier you can still see a rare example of Gondola Lariana, a sailing boat used until the end of the 19th century for the transport of goods and animals.
Also this hamlet was a small fishing village and still retains the flavor of the past.
From here we suggest you to go back towards the center of the town crossing the wonderful romantic garden of Villa Melzi. The villa was built by Francesco Melzi D'Eril, vice president of the Cisalpine Republic; still today it is the private property of the descendants of this illustrious family. The park is famous for the flowering of azaleas and rhododendrons, in the spring, but it is fascinating at any time of year. Please note that there is an entrance fee; the ticket is valid for the entire day and entitles you to visit the neoclassical family chapel and the small museum.
If you have already made this visit, then follow the paved road that, first going up and then down, takes you back to the lakefront near the main entrance of Villa Melzi. From there, in a few minutes, you can return to the center of the village of Bellagio following the lakeside promenade, called Lungo Lario Europa.