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We returned to Lenno today alongside Lake Como to visit Villa del Balbianello. The Villa is out on the water and not near where the roads are, so we weren’t quite sure where to get off the bus. The bus driver told us he would let us know. The trip took a little longer as there were road closures, and diversions in this area aren’t an easy thing to organise or get around.
We kept a lookout, as we always do, for signage and possible stops. As we passed through Lenno and then through a couple more stops, we knew we had missed it. When we spoke to the driver he was mortified. Amid a hundred “scusi’s”, he let us off and told us his colleague would come to pick us up. Sure enough, less than a minute later, the C10 bus heading from Como pulled over and picked us up. This driver was also full of apologies. No drama, but what a lovely way to be treated. When we got to our correct stop, the driver couldn’t have been more helpful with information and directions.
From the bus it takes about 15 minutes to walk up to the Villa, around the lake and up through beautiful gardens and cobbled roads. It’s all uphill, so if you have mobility issues (or are just sick of walking), there are also ferry options that drop you at the bottom of the Villa.
If we had taken the ferry we would have missed the great walk through the trees and also the newly married couple posing for photos on their silver moped.
First things first, we needed to test some more gelati flavours out. So before we started walking, we stopped in at La Fabbrica del Gelato for a morning taste sensation.
And taste sensation it was. This shop had some unusual flavours. I couldn’t go past the Mela E Cannella – Apple Pie, and Stirling had the Liquirizia. I’m not a fan of licorice but he informs me it was very good. As for mine…..I could taste the apples, cinnamon, and amazingly, the pastry! An entire dessert all in one. It was fabulous. As someone who makes my own icecream, this is one I am going to have to try.
Villa del Balbianello
Villa del Balbianello, built in the 12th century, is a superb and decadent example of a Lake Como Villa. From afar, it’s how you imagine everyone lives here in these parts. It is located right on the water, surrounded by a forest and embraced by the most gorgeous terraced gardens. I would suggest taking the guided tour which gives you full access to everything in the grounds including the Villa itself.
For full details on the tour of Villa del Balbianello, see associated post here Visit Villa del Balbianello.
It’s known as the ‘pearl of the lake”, and indeed it is beautiful. However, even after visiting, I still have a preference for Varenna, but it really is splitting hairs.
Bellagio sits at the end of the mainland where Lake Como splits into two (or the upside down “Y”).
After spending a few hours at the Villa del Balbianello, we walked back into Lenno and caught the ferry to Bellagio for lunch. Along the way though I couldn’t help but admire many of the private villas.
It was 3pm by the time we got to Bellagio, and whilst I thought most restaurants in Italy stayed open and allowed people to graze all day, this was not the case here. Our initial choices all turned into dead ends. Great locations on the water, but offering the type of food I would expect to buy at a takeaway shop. It wasn’t what I wanted to eat in Bellagio.
Instead we found the Hotel Suisse, located just back from the waterfront, but still with a view. And, they were more than accommodating of some late lunchers. Located next to the hotel are all the fancy shops selling everything from clothes to jewellery, to glassware to souvenirs. All of them have heavy drapes hanging under the arches. These drapes are lowered in the summertime when the heat is high. It protects all the shoppers from the heat and allows them to shop in comfort.
We had some excellent pasta here. When Stirling’s veal ravioli with sage and burnt butter arrived, I had menu envy. How I wished I had ordered that as well. Freshly made ravioli, with the freshest and simplest of ingredients. I shouldn’t have envied his meal too much. Fettuccine with sun dried tomatoes, soft and juicy, goats cheese and parmesan. All washed down with a couple of glasses of prosecco. Lunch in Bellagio, now there’s something to tick off our list.
Following our usual after lunch pattern, we climbed up and down the stone steps. Many of these are quite steep. But it’s worth the effort as this is where the locals shop and eat.
As though it was a living advertisement for the style and money of Bellagio, as we walked through the streets, a Maserati did a slow drive past.
Gelati time once more. Don’t judge or think I have a problem. I love this stuff and when I am in Italy I am the first to admit I have an absolute compulsion to continually eat gelati. It’s so good and doesn’t fill you up that it almost feels like it’s good for you.
We wander for ages, after all, there is no agenda or time limit. This is travelling at it’s very best.
We finally emerge at the five star hotel G.H. Villa Serbelloni. If there was a place that you could afford to stay at, it would be here. This hotel offers amazing views over the lake.
Next door, a restaurant with the most gorgeous, leafy, waterfront setting calls out to us to have a drink before we catch the ferry back to Menaggio. It’s the perfect end to another great day on the lake.
It takes us about an hour to get back to Dongo, via the ferry to Menaggio and then the bus (which always arrives in about 10 minutes! ).
- Villa de Balbianello – the whole thing was incredible.
- Doing lunch in Bellagio.
- Just being in Lake Como. It makes for such a relaxing stay.
- The campground. We couldn’t have fallen into a better place. To be parked up here for days knowing the motorhome was safe was awesome. Having a spot right on the lake was also a bonus.
- The people we came into contact with in the lake area were very helpful and friendly which always makes everything seem so much better.
Camping Magic Lake
Via Vigna del Lago 60 – 22014 Dongo (CO) Italy
- Excellent host. Extremely helpful with information on buses, local places to see, campground activities.
- Wifi available in bar/reception and in outdoors eating area.
- Excellent facilities and hot water.
- Campsite is shared with permanent caravan residents who are not a problem in any way. There are 50 pitches available for camping.
- Some sites have direct access to the lake. If you were going in summertime, you would need to speak to the owner to reserve one.
- Cost €26 per night. This includes two people, motorhome and electricity. Only accepts cash. We stayed two nights here.
- Bus stops is very close to the camping ground and can take you as far as Como in the southern direction or Colico to the north. Dongo is 8 stops from Menaggio.
- Very quiet campground
- Bike paths around the lake
- Campsite also hires out water equipment eg kayaks
- There are also rooms to hire here (like a B&B arrangement)
- Campground has a good website which isn’t common
Been to Lake Como? Which town did you like the best?
Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.