Andrea Grisdale, one of the owners of Palazzo del Vice Re and CEO of the award-winning destination management company IC Bellagio, started her career in the travel industry as a guide. Right away, she understood that it was the relationship she had with travelers that made their journeys more meaningful – much more than checking tourist sights off a list. That essential experience has led Andrea and IC Bellagio to focus the business on precisely these all-important personal connections, establishing “It’s all about the people” as the company motto!

Here on Lake Como, it can be a challenge for travelers to find a guide who has the insider insight, charismatic personality, and cultural and historical awareness they want. Someone who can take them away from the madding crowds and give them the bragging rights to a truly authentic and one-of-a-kind experience. Thanks to Andrea and the Pertusini family, all that guests at the Palazzo del Vice Re have to do is ask – and they shall receive! We have friends, family, team members and loyal local guides we have worked with for years. They all have deep connections to this region and an array of local experiences that are designed for a variety of travelers, whether your party includes active teens and tweens looking for an adrenaline rush, gourmands keen to sample local specialties, outdoor enthusiasts, fans of the fine arts or families with get up and go.

Wherever you decide to spend your day, rest assured that we only work with fully vetted guides and experiences that we have personally taken for a test drive. Our guests have the Palazzo team at their service during their entire stay, to arrange for these and other daytrips, to modify plans in case of inclement weather (or other bummers) and to welcome them back to the Palazzo after a long day on the road with a cold Spritz cocktail and a warm smile. Listening to our guests recount their experiences is one of our favorite things about working at the Palazzo!

Parma: Italy’s Capital of Culture 2020

For Cultural Connoisseurs

At the risk of stretching the idea of what constitutes a daytrip – Parma is, after all, less than 3 hours drive from Lezzeno – we are big fans of Italy’s City of Culture in 2020. Parma’s uniquely rich cultural and culinary scene has one foot firmly planted in times gone by and the other striding into the future. Artists like Correggio and Parmigianino, musical geniuses like Verdi and Toscanini, and politicians like the Farnese family or Archduchess Maria Luigia (Napoleon’s Ex) are its favorite sons/daughters. The Galleria Nazionale housed in the medieval Palazzo della Pilotta, the Romanesque cathedral with Correggio’s cupola and the Belle Époque opera house are just a few of its architectural gems. And bringing the city roaring into the 21stcentury are Renzo Piano with his sugar factory turned Paganini Auditorium, Mario Botta’s fountain on the Piazzale della Pace and contemporary museums like the University’s CSAC in an old Cistercian abbey or the Casa del Suono (a museum of sound systems) in a 17thcentury church.

What makes a day in Parma so unique, however, is how incredibly livable it is. The old town is partially pedestrianized (most of the Parmigiani get around by bike!) and only about half a mile in diameter, while the immediate environs beckon with medieval castles like the moated Rocca di Fontanellato as well as idyllic farmhouse restaurants and artisanal food producers where you can sample the local delicacies. No matter where you are in and around Parma, you’ll be constantly reminded of its renowned food culture. Prosciutto di Parma sliced thin on a hand cranked “afettatrice”. Massive wheels of Parmesan cheese, often served in thick chunks drizzled with a fine Aceto balsamico. Tortelli pasta stuffed with pumpkin or local greens known as “erbette”. Our local guides can put together a personalized daytrip to the 2020 City of Culture packed with historical and cultural insight and great recommendations for feasting on Parma’s famous food!

como, Five best guided daytrips from Bellagio

Lugano: Swiss Watches, Swiss Chocolate, and the Sweet Swiss Lifestyle

Fun for the whole family

Lago di Como has the distinct pleasure of being just a few miles from the Swiss border. That gives visitors the chance to live their own Tale of Two Lakes, experiencing our own picturesque lake and its sister lake Lago di Lugano across the border, two equally enticing destinations with a distinctly different vibe. Lugano is a particularly fun daytrip for families with a diverse range of kid-friendly hot-spots. Traveling a different route there and back with our experienced driver will do away with any “Are we there yet?” complaints and the promise of chocolate and some of the world’s best gelato will do wonders for the attention span of little ones… and parents will enjoy strolling through the elegant old town, where the shopfronts are filled with designer fashions, pricey Swiss watches and over-the-top jewelry. Here are just a few of the things that await families in and around Lugano:

The Alprose Chocolate Museum takes visitors through the history of chocolate from its Aztec roots to modern production – plus free samples in the Nostalgia boutique at the end of the exhibit. Swissminiatur is an open-air park with miniature models of Switzerland’s most famous sights, from the Basel Cathedral to the Zugspitze peak, with eye-catching extras like working ferries, trains and gondolas. Speaking of gondolas, families can take a funicular railway or cable car to reach the top of a few mountains around the lake – like Monte Brè or Monte San Salvatore – and enjoy a picnic, a family-friendly walk or just the stunning views. Monte Tamaro, about 30 minutes north of Lugano (and probably worth a daytrip on its own!), has ziplines, a treetop obstacle course, a summer bobsled course and a massive water park. In Lugano city, a stroll along the lakeside promenade and into Parco Ciani offers parents a chance to (try and) explain modern sculpture as well as a pretty sweet playground, the Museo Cantonale di Storia Naturale is a free natural history museum with fossils, stuffed animals and gemstones and the regionally famous Vanini ice cream shop – eat on one of the outside tables on Piazza Riforma or grab a cone around the corner.

como, Five best guided daytrips from Bellagio

Valchiavenna: The Crotti of Valchiavenna

For foodies

There is an ancient route leading to points north from the top tip of Lake Como. All manner of merchants and militaries, smugglers and spies, pilgrims and pioneers have crossed the Splügen Pass over the centuries. But, after the railway was built across the Gotthard pass in 1882 and the San Bernadino tunnel opened for cars in 1967, this route lost its appeal and the valley below it its prosperity. Today, the area has reclaimed its popularity, not as a throughway, but as a destination in its own right. The Valchiavenna – Madesimo-Campodolcino ski slopes offer good value and great runs; the Valchiavenna cycle trail is a 30-mile paved path from Colico on Lake Como to the Swiss border; and the soaring peaks of the Rhaetian Alps offer miles and miles of demanding (and panoramic!) hiking and mountain biking trails. One of the main towns of the region – Chiavenna – never lost any of its charm, nestled as it is on the fast-flowing Mera river and home to some of norther Italy’s best “slow food”.

When you read about Chiavenna, the word most associated with it is “crotti”, stone caves formed during the landslides after the last ice age that are naturally ventilated by a mountain breeze the locals call “sorèl”. They maintain a pretty constant temperature of between 40 and 46°F, perfect for aging cheese, wine and cured meats – chief among them is the beloved Bresaola, a salted, dry-cured beef that is pretty much a perfect food. Its beef comes from grass-fed cattle roaming alpine pastures, it is extremely lean and low in fat, and a little goes a loooooong way – a single serving amounts to only one ounce of this thinly-sliced deliciousness. Our guides are experts in finding quaint out-of-the-way crotti to sample Bresaola and the area’s other delicacies, like a range of dishes made with coarse buckwheat flour – Polenta Taragna, Pizzochieri pasta, Chisciöl fritters and Manfrigole crepes, all served with copious amounts of rich melted cheese, like the sharp crotti-aged Bitto. They can also arrange for a tour of the Palazzo Vertemate Franchi with its unique walled-in vineyard and over-the-top frescos, a cycling tour along the Mera river or wine tasting of the rich red wines of the region, which are mainly made from an alpine nebbiola grape known locally as Chiavennasca.

como, Five best guided daytrips from Bellagio

Strada Regia Hike: Brunate, Boulders and Breathtaking Views

For outdoor enthusiasts

Not all hikers set out to summit a so-called “10,000-er”, those bucket list peaks with daring climbs reserved for real mountaineers. Some, perhaps like you, want the perks of a day outdoors – fresh air, sweeping views, communing with nature and escaping the traffic, crowds and noise of civilization – without overdoing it. That’s what this daytrip is all about: slowing down and reconnecting with family or friends on the trail, putting the local flora, fauna and minerals into their historical and geographical context and sharing the experience with someone who is intimately connected to the local history and landscape. Our naturalist guides will turn this daytrip into a real live-as-a-local experience and you are guaranteed to end the day with a smile on your face – probably exhausted but definitely content.

We can arrange for a private boat to collect you right at the landing stage in Lezzeno and bring you to Como town. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to see some of Lake Como’s best-loved sights from the water, whether it’s the charming medieval bridge in Nesso or extravagant lakeside villas like Villa Erba, Villa Troubetzky, Villa Oleandra in Laglio (a certain Hollywood star’s humble abode) and the Grande Dame of Lake Como hotels Villa d’Este. Once in Como, you’ll meet your guide and walk to the Funiculare, a feat of engineering from the late 1800s built to carry rich industrialists from Milan up the mountain to their summer residences in the resort town Brunate. In this charming village, she’ll point out the stunning art deco villas with their murals and wrought iron decoration. The hike to Torno from Brunate takes around two hours, making your way through an enchanted wood past the picturesque church of Santa Elisabetta, the mind-boggling Pietra Pendula (a huge boulder suspended on the top of a limestone rock!) and the mysterious tombs known as Massi Avelli, which have mystified archaeologists for centuries. Once in Torno, you can stop in a restaurant recommended by your guide for a well-deserved meal and meet your boat captain for the return trip to the Palazzo.

como, Five best guided daytrips from Bellagio

Canyoning on Lake Como

For teens, tweens and adventurers of all ages

The beguiling hills of Lake Como, sculpted by the glaciers of yesteryear, have hidden among them secret caves, rushing rivers and secluded natural pools. What’s the best way to experience these off-the-beaten-track sights? On a high adrenaline canyoning trip that puts you (literally) inside the landscape in a completely unique way. Our certified canyoning guides know the hills of the Lario like the back of their hands – and they have the best in state-of-the-art safety equipment to make sure you end the day in one piece, whether it is boots, harnesses, helmets or wetsuits that help you float. There are a variety of trips on offer, from an easy walk in the woods with a bit of splashing to ambitious tours with steep climbs, 20 foot leaps and a jump into a pitch black cave.

The best part about working with our experienced guides is that they are well-versed in both coaxing hesitant participants to challenge themselves and in finding suitable alternatives for people who are unable (in the truest sense of the words) to take a leap of faith – for example, they’ll help you abseil down a chute instead of jumping. And the routes are seriously picturesque, like the Perlana river near Lenno or a stunning gorge near Bellagio. For adventurers willing to go a bit further afield, we can arrange trips to Porlezza near Lake Lugano, which has a cool cave system with up to 15 foot drops (but may experience difficulty with water levels on occasion), or Bodengo 40 miles to the north, a unique granite gorge at the foot of the Lepontine Alps with hair-raising 45 foot jumps.

como, Five best guided daytrips from Bellagio

Andrea Grisdale, one of the owners of Palazzo del Vice Re and CEO of the award-winning destination management company IC Bellagio, started her career in the travel industry as a guide. Right away, she understood that it was the relationship she had with travelers that made their journeys more meaningful – much more than checking tourist sights off a list. That essential experience has led Andrea and IC Bellagio to focus the business on precisely these all-important personal connections, establishing “It’s all about the people” as the company motto!

Here on Lake Como, it can be a challenge for travelers to find a guide who has the insider insight, charismatic personality, and cultural and historical awareness they want. Someone who can take them away from the madding crowds and give them the bragging rights to a truly authentic and one-of-a-kind experience. Thanks to Andrea and the Pertusini family, all that guests at the Palazzo del Vice Re have to do is ask – and they shall receive! We have friends, family, team members and loyal local guides we have worked with for years. They all have deep connections to this region and an array of local experiences that are designed for a variety of travelers, whether your party includes active teens and tweens looking for an adrenaline rush, gourmands keen to sample local specialties, outdoor enthusiasts, fans of the fine arts or families with get up and go.

Wherever you decide to spend your day, rest assured that we only work with fully vetted guides and experiences that we have personally taken for a test drive. Our guests have the Palazzo team at their service during their entire stay, to arrange for these and other daytrips, to modify plans in case of inclement weather (or other bummers) and to welcome them back to the Palazzo after a long day on the road with a cold Spritz cocktail and a warm smile. Listening to our guests recount their experiences is one of our favorite things about working at the Palazzo!

Parma: Italy’s Capital of Culture 2020

For Cultural Connoisseurs

At the risk of stretching the idea of what constitutes a daytrip – Parma is, after all, less than 3 hours drive from Lezzeno – we are big fans of Italy’s City of Culture in 2020. Parma’s uniquely rich cultural and culinary scene has one foot firmly planted in times gone by and the other striding into the future. Artists like Correggio and Parmigianino, musical geniuses like Verdi and Toscanini, and politicians like the Farnese family or Archduchess Maria Luigia (Napoleon’s Ex) are its favorite sons/daughters. The Galleria Nazionale housed in the medieval Palazzo della Pilotta, the Romanesque cathedral with Correggio’s cupola and the Belle Époque opera house are just a few of its architectural gems. And bringing the city roaring into the 21stcentury are Renzo Piano with his sugar factory turned Paganini Auditorium, Mario Botta’s fountain on the Piazzale della Pace and contemporary museums like the University’s CSAC in an old Cistercian abbey or the Casa del Suono (a museum of sound systems) in a 17thcentury church.

What makes a day in Parma so unique, however, is how incredibly livable it is. The old town is partially pedestrianized (most of the Parmigiani get around by bike!) and only about half a mile in diameter, while the immediate environs beckon with medieval castles like the moated Rocca di Fontanellato as well as idyllic farmhouse restaurants and artisanal food producers where you can sample the local delicacies. No matter where you are in and around Parma, you’ll be constantly reminded of its renowned food culture. Prosciutto di Parma sliced thin on a hand cranked “afettatrice”. Massive wheels of Parmesan cheese, often served in thick chunks drizzled with a fine Aceto balsamico. Tortelli pasta stuffed with pumpkin or local greens known as “erbette”. Our local guides can put together a personalized daytrip to the 2020 City of Culture packed with historical and cultural insight and great recommendations for feasting on Parma’s famous food!

Lugano: Swiss Watches, Swiss Chocolate, and the Sweet Swiss Lifestyle

Fun for the whole family

Lago di Como has the distinct pleasure of being just a few miles from the Swiss border. That gives visitors the chance to live their own Tale of Two Lakes, experiencing our own picturesque lake and its sister lake Lago di Lugano across the border, two equally enticing destinations with a distinctly different vibe. Lugano is a particularly fun daytrip for families with a diverse range of kid-friendly hot-spots. Traveling a different route there and back with our experienced driver will do away with any “Are we there yet?” complaints and the promise of chocolate and some of the world’s best gelato will do wonders for the attention span of little ones… and parents will enjoy strolling through the elegant old town, where the shopfronts are filled with designer fashions, pricey Swiss watches and over-the-top jewelry. Here are just a few of the things that await families in and around Lugano:

The Alprose Chocolate Museum takes visitors through the history of chocolate from its Aztec roots to modern production – plus free samples in the Nostalgia boutique at the end of the exhibit. Swissminiatur is an open-air park with miniature models of Switzerland’s most famous sights, from the Basel Cathedral to the Zugspitze peak, with eye-catching extras like working ferries, trains and gondolas. Speaking of gondolas, families can take a funicular railway or cable car to reach the top of a few mountains around the lake – like Monte Brè or Monte San Salvatore – and enjoy a picnic, a family-friendly walk or just the stunning views. Monte Tamaro, about 30 minutes north of Lugano (and probably worth a daytrip on its own!), has ziplines, a treetop obstacle course, a summer bobsled course and a massive water park. In Lugano city, a stroll along the lakeside promenade and into Parco Ciani offers parents a chance to (try and) explain modern sculpture as well as a pretty sweet playground, the Museo Cantonale di Storia Naturale is a free natural history museum with fossils, stuffed animals and gemstones and the regionally famous Vanini ice cream shop – eat on one of the outside tables on Piazza Riforma or grab a cone around the corner.

Valchiavenna: The Crotti of Valchiavenna

For foodies

There is an ancient route leading to points north from the top tip of Lake Como. All manner of merchants and militaries, smugglers and spies, pilgrims and pioneers have crossed the Splügen Pass over the centuries. But, after the railway was built across the Gotthard pass in 1882 and the San Bernadino tunnel opened for cars in 1967, this route lost its appeal and the valley below it its prosperity. Today, the area has reclaimed its popularity, not as a throughway, but as a destination in its own right. The Valchiavenna – Madesimo-Campodolcino ski slopes offer good value and great runs; the Valchiavenna cycle trail is a 30-mile paved path from Colico on Lake Como to the Swiss border; and the soaring peaks of the Rhaetian Alps offer miles and miles of demanding (and panoramic!) hiking and mountain biking trails. One of the main towns of the region – Chiavenna – never lost any of its charm, nestled as it is on the fast-flowing Mera river and home to some of norther Italy’s best “slow food”.

When you read about Chiavenna, the word most associated with it is “crotti”, stone caves formed during the landslides after the last ice age that are naturally ventilated by a mountain breeze the locals call “sorèl”. They maintain a pretty constant temperature of between 40 and 46°F, perfect for aging cheese, wine and cured meats – chief among them is the beloved Bresaola, a salted, dry-cured beef that is pretty much a perfect food. Its beef comes from grass-fed cattle roaming alpine pastures, it is extremely lean and low in fat, and a little goes a loooooong way – a single serving amounts to only one ounce of this thinly-sliced deliciousness. Our guides are experts in finding quaint out-of-the-way crotti to sample Bresaola and the area’s other delicacies, like a range of dishes made with coarse buckwheat flour – Polenta Taragna, Pizzochieri pasta, Chisciöl fritters and Manfrigole crepes, all served with copious amounts of rich melted cheese, like the sharp crotti-aged Bitto. They can also arrange for a tour of the Palazzo Vertemate Franchi with its unique walled-in vineyard and over-the-top frescos, a cycling tour along the Mera river or wine tasting of the rich red wines of the region, which are mainly made from an alpine nebbiola grape known locally as Chiavennasca.

Strada Regia Hike: Brunate, Boulders and Breathtaking Views

For outdoor enthusiasts

Not all hikers set out to summit a so-called “10,000-er”, those bucket list peaks with daring climbs reserved for real mountaineers. Some, perhaps like you, want the perks of a day outdoors – fresh air, sweeping views, communing with nature and escaping the traffic, crowds and noise of civilization – without overdoing it. That’s what this daytrip is all about: slowing down and reconnecting with family or friends on the trail, putting the local flora, fauna and minerals into their historical and geographical context and sharing the experience with someone who is intimately connected to the local history and landscape. Our naturalist guides will turn this daytrip into a real live-as-a-local experience and you are guaranteed to end the day with a smile on your face – probably exhausted but definitely content.

We can arrange for a private boat to collect you right at the landing stage in Lezzeno and bring you to Como town. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to see some of Lake Como’s best-loved sights from the water, whether it’s the charming medieval bridge in Nesso or extravagant lakeside villas like Villa Erba, Villa Troubetzky, Villa Oleandra in Laglio (a certain Hollywood star’s humble abode) and the Grande Dame of Lake Como hotels Villa d’Este. Once in Como, you’ll meet your guide and walk to the Funiculare, a feat of engineering from the late 1800s built to carry rich industrialists from Milan up the mountain to their summer residences in the resort town Brunate. In this charming village, she’ll point out the stunning art deco villas with their murals and wrought iron decoration. The hike to Torno from Brunate takes around two hours, making your way through an enchanted wood past the picturesque church of Santa Elisabetta, the mind-boggling Pietra Pendula (a huge boulder suspended on the top of a limestone rock!) and the mysterious tombs known as Massi Avelli, which have mystified archaeologists for centuries. Once in Torno, you can stop in a restaurant recommended by your guide for a well-deserved meal and meet your boat captain for the return trip to the Palazzo.

Canyoning on Lake Como

For teens, tweens and adventurers of all ages

The beguiling hills of Lake Como, sculpted by the glaciers of yesteryear, have hidden among them secret caves, rushing rivers and secluded natural pools. What’s the best way to experience these off-the-beaten-track sights? On a high adrenaline canyoning trip that puts you (literally) inside the landscape in a completely unique way. Our certified canyoning guides know the hills of the Lario like the back of their hands – and they have the best in state-of-the-art safety equipment to make sure you end the day in one piece, whether it is boots, harnesses, helmets or wetsuits that help you float. There are a variety of trips on offer, from an easy walk in the woods with a bit of splashing to ambitious tours with steep climbs, 20 foot leaps and a jump into a pitch black cave.

The best part about working with our experienced guides is that they are well-versed in both coaxing hesitant participants to challenge themselves and in finding suitable alternatives for people who are unable (in the truest sense of the words) to take a leap of faith – for example, they’ll help you abseil down a chute instead of jumping. And the routes are seriously picturesque, like the Perlana river near Lenno or a stunning gorge near Bellagio. For adventurers willing to go a bit further afield, we can arrange trips to Porlezza near Lake Lugano, which has a cool cave system with up to 15 foot drops (but may experience difficulty with water levels on occasion), or Bodengo 40 miles to the north, a unique granite gorge at the foot of the Lepontine Alps with hair-raising 45 foot jumps.