We once asked a friend who was visiting us, “Is the lake as beautiful as all the promotional material suggests that it is?” He responded, “It’s way more beautiful. Actually, quite indescribable.”

For this reason perhaps many well known writers, musicians and painters have for centuries made Lake Como their home or, if not their home, certainly as a place where they could work, create, and be inspired. Dante, Liszt, Puccini, Da Vinci, Corot, and Sargent. Churchill painted here and visited many times. Napoleon, too. And of course, Mussolini – who was executed along with his mistress in the little village of Mezzegra, which is in the central part of the lake.

Nowadays, royalty – both of the blood type and those who have reached the pinnacles of success – own villas here. Versace, and now his sister, has a magnificent villa, as do billionaires of various stripes. George Clooney lives here a good part of the year, of course, and brings his Hollywood friends to share in the beauty and serenity.

Lake Como is dramatic because the surrounding mountains are very tall and steep. It was made by retreating glaciers; the highest peaks are above 8,000 feet and the depth of the lake is 1,300 feet and the lake is nearly 30 miles long with branches.

There is all sorts of activities such as boating of every type, incredible swimming opportunities, hiking to die for, even para-gliding. Menaggio hosts a world-class golf course. You can visit the contadini, who still live in stone houses up on the mountains and who make cheese. Or on the other end of the spectrum you can have an all-you-can-eat gourmet breakfast, replete with endless champagne, at Villa d’Este (for 45 euros), a hotel that caters to the truly rich and famous.

There are also numerous churches and castles and towers more than a thousand years old that you can visit. There are many incredible fine dining locations with spectacular lake views. But Lake Como is not an urban situation with a fast-paced night-life. There are clubs and dancing, but probably what Lake Como offers most is a chance to chill out, relax, and enjoy what most people would call “un paradiso.”

To discover more of what Bellagio has to offer, check out this local guide.

Make sure to click the links on the right side bar to find workshop details.

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