As soon as I saw the breathtaking views from the pool of Borgo La Terrazze, I knew I had to book it. And what better excuse for a getaway than to make the most of a bank holiday.
We flew into Bergamo with RyanAir, and from there it was a scenic hour and fifteen minute drive to the hotel.
All of the rooms at Borgo La Terrazze boast views across the picturesque lake. I decided to book the standard junior suite (the cheapest room option), which still came with a balcony, sofa area and huge bathtub. It’s worth knowing that breakfast isn’t included with the room price, but it’s worth paying just to enjoy your croissants and cold meats with THAT view!
The hotel was near the town of Bellagio, also known as the ‘pearl of the lake’. Getting there was about a 25 minute walk, which we did a few times, even in the August heat. At night time though, the road was probably a bit too dangerous to walk. The last leg to the hotel doesn’t have a path and the roads are very winding.
However, the hotel has a shuttle bus that runs to and from the centre of Bellagio at set times. On the Saturday evening, there was 22 of us waiting for the minibus, which only held 12 people including the driver.
“No, we can all fit in,” the driver shouted, waving everyone in.
And so we do. We had people sat on laps, people in the foot wells and everyone bunched together like sardines for the 5 minute drive. We probably looked like a clown car as everyone piled out.
Lake Como is noted as one of the most ‘dramatic and romantic’ of all the Italian lakes and is shaped like an inverted ‘y’. The village sits where these three points meet, making it a perfect base for exploring the area and soaking up the vistas.
We spent the day exploring the stone lanes and cobbled stairways lined with shops selling wines, leather and other Italian wares. Walking down to ‘Punta Spartivento’ the point that divides the wind, gives glorious vistas across the water to the alps and the Swiss border.
Gardens Villa Melzi
Like many of the villas the sit on the lake front, the house was built as a summer retreat for the rich families from Milan. The house is still owned by the family and so isn’t open to the public, but the grounds are open to explore, for a fee.
The villa was built by Francesco Melzi d’Eril, count of Lodi and Vice president of the First Italian Republic. Building started in 1808 and reflects the Count’s neo-classic taste.
The paths winds off in different directions, passing Egyptian sculptures, Roman statues and exotic trees. We headed up a bank that gave great panoramic back towards the house and lake.
There’s nowhere to buy drinks or snacks at the gardens, and so our stroll was cut short by the thought of pizza.
Villa del Balbianello
Villa del Balbinanello is a must when visiting Lake Como.
We booked a group tour of the villa through Bellagio Water Limousines. Jenny met us, and the rest of the group, on the water front. She then showed us to our boat and our skipper, Lucca.
Villa del Balbinanello is on the site of an old Franciscan monastery. The two towers which can be seen are the original bell towers from the monastery’s church.
The villa has been used as a location for various films, Star Wars Attack of the Clones, and James Bond’s Casino Royale.
The last owner was Guido Monzino, who was a keen traveller and explorer – he led the first Italian expedition up Mount Everest. Much of the rooms hold souvenirs, artefacts and artworks he collected.
After a tour around the site, we had some free time to explore the terraces.
Private boat to the north of the lake
“I hope that’s not ours,” I said, as we walked toward the meeting point at Pescallo. The craft in question was a small rowing boat coming towards the small harbour.
A few moments later, Carlo came into view with his classic french sailing boat, Sleepy. We cautiously stepped aboard and made ourselves comfortable.
“We’re going to towards the north, as we have more chance of getting some wind in the sails,” Carlo explained as Bellagio faded into the distance. For the next hour or so, we passed grand villas, quaint villages and more stunning views of Como. We breezed passed Varenna, Menaggio and Santa Maria.
Our skipper disappeared briefly before re-emerging with snacks and a lovely bottle of chilled white wine. It was truly a taste of luxury. For that afternoon, we were celebrities, or successful business owners.
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind to use the sails, but the engine was quiet enough.
Heading back across the water to Bellano, we spotted a couple waving in smaller sailboat. Are they waving at us?
Carlo turned Sleepy back towards the wooden boat. After a brief chat in Italian, he shouted, “these people are stranded, do you mind if we take them back to Bellano?”
Of course we didn’t mind. So they were thrown a rope and we towed them back to the port, before heading back to Pescallo and the end of our experience.
Our weekend in Lake Como
We had an amazing three days in Lake Como, and there is so much to see. If we had more time, a trip to Como would definitely be on the cards, and a hike up to Castello di Vezio from Varenna…and probably eaten a few more pizzas at BabaYaga!