Walks Around Bellagio

>Walks Around Bellagio

The whole Lake Como region has picture-perfect spots for walking, whether you are strolling lakeside between the multicolored flower beds or following in pilgrims’ footsteps on age-old paths. Here at the Palazzo, we are passionate about getting out into nature and experiencing the sights and sounds of this unique scenery. If you would like to gain even more insight into the local flora and fauna or hear the ancient stories written in the landscape, we’d love to have one of our local expert guides lead the way. You can also venture out on your own and try one of our favorite local walks around Bellagio – each of which is ideal for all levels of fitness and in most cases stroller-friendly. Don’t hesitate to ask our friendly staff in planning a day out to one of these five destinations, including some recommendations on local cafés and eateries.

The whole Lake Como region has picture-perfect spots for walking, whether you are strolling lakeside between the multicolored flower beds or following in pilgrims’ footsteps on age-old paths. Here at the Palazzo, we are passionate about getting out into nature and experiencing the sights and sounds of this unique scenery. If you would like to gain even more insight into the local flora and fauna or hear the ancient stories written in the landscape, we’d love to have one of our local expert guides lead the way. You can also venture out on your own and try one of our favorite local walks around Bellagio – each of which is ideal for all levels of fitness and in most cases stroller-friendly. Don’t hesitate to ask our friendly staff in planning a day out to one of these five destinations, including some recommendations on local cafés and eateries.

Villa Melzi

“When you write the story of two happy lovers, let the story be set on the banks of Lake Como.”

Franz Liszt

Bellagio is known as the Pearl of the Lario and certainly charms visitors with its quaint alleys, sweet boutiques and lake-view eateries. The gardens of Villa Melzi, spread along the town’s southern shore, offer a pleasant distraction with its oasis of lush landscaping and quiet corners. In the early 1800s, Francesco Melzi d’Eril – a student of the Enlightenment and Vice President of the Napoleonic Italian Republic – built an estate on Lake Como as a summer retreat for his prominent Milanese family. The gardens were designed in the English style popular at the time, combining sculpture, planting and architecture to create visual harmony. Stroll along the lakeside promenade and pause on one of the stone benches between the expertly pruned plane trees. Linger by the pond in the Japanese garden with its leafy maples and picturesque bridge. Venture up the hill ablaze with azaleas, rhododendron and camellias to enjoy the lake views from above. Enjoy the blissful cool in the craggy cave. Pause and swoon before the statue of Dante and his Beatrice next to the Moorish kiosk, which is said to have inspired Franz Liszt’s Dante Symphony.

Villa Melzi,
Via Lungolario Manzoni,
22021 Bellagio CO,
Italy

March to October 9:30 – 6:00
Entrance: adults € 6.50,
children under 12 go free,
two-day pass € 8.00

Chilometro della Conoscenza

“Il presente e la solo conoscenza che serve.” The present is the only knowledge you need.

Erri di Luca

Il Chilometro della Conoscenza, or the Kilometer of Knowledge, is a project initiated by the city of Como, aiming to showcase the natural beauty of the region and inspire creative endeavor. This walking trail encompasses the three most beautiful villas of the so-called “primo bacino” – the first third of the Como basin that has been home to well-to-do aristocrats and industrialists for centuries, thanks to its proximity to Milan and the industrial hubs of Italy’s northern corridor. Along the path, public art is displayed in a modern version of the Greek and Roman statuary common in Lake Como gardens in the past.

The path begins at Villa Olmo, built at the turn of the 19th century as a summer residence for the aristocratic Odescalchi family and recently restored inside and out to its former glory. From here the path winds its way along the lake between lemon trees and traditional greenhouses to the Villa del Grumello. This elegant, neoclassical villa was originally built in the 17th century and is renowned for its extensive park with unique flora, including a Cedar of Lebanon, several redwoods and a centuries-old Gingko. The last stop on the Kilometer of Knowledge is Villa Sucota, an early 20th-century villa that now houses the Fondazione Ratti, a non-profit initiative dedicated to the study of textile production and contemporary art. The grounds are home to rare and exotic plants cultivated there by a student of Volta as well as several provocative pieces of modern sculpture.

Kilometer of Knowledge

starting at
Villa Olmo,
Via Simone Cantoni 1,
22100 Como CO, Italy.

Entrance: free

Giardino della Valle

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

Anonymous

Between the walls of Villa d’Este and the slow trickle of Garrovo stream in Cernobbio lies an oasis like no other: Giardino della Valle. This illegal trash dump turned lovingly tended public park was the brainchild of Ms. Pupa Frati, otherwise known as Nonna Pupa and still today – at 92! – the heart and soul of the project. She and an army of dedicated volunteers have made this small stretch of land into a veritable oasis of plants and peace. Around every bend this garden surprises you with quirky wooden sculptures and inspiring literary quotes; at every turn its azaleas, roses, irises and peonies vie with the birdsong for your attention. There’s even a quiet reading corner with a free lending library that invites you to linger…

During the spring season, free concerts, literary happenings and art exhibitions take place in this unique setting and Nonna Pupa welcomes all volunteers and amateur gardeners to help with the upkeep of the garden at regular open days. Check out the Facebook page for the latest events or help support her noble cause by becoming a member of the Associazione Giardino della Valle.

Giardino della Valle,
Via Plinio,
Cernobbio, Italy

Open 8 to 6
Entrance: free

San Giovanni di Bellagio

“This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Bellagio is made up of 22 separate frazioni or hamlets from the top of Monte San Primo to the lake shore on either side of the promontory. Quaint Pescallo has the quiet charm of an ancient fishing village, Civenna sits on its wooded perch high above the lake and Visgnola is a culinary treat with Ristorante Salice Blu and the legendary Pasticceria Sancassani. One of our favorite hamlets, San Giovanni, is just over a mile south of Bellagio on the eastern shore and the ideal place for a bit of a walkabout.

On the main square, visitors can admire the elegant Baroque façade of the Church of San Giovanni and the tiny port where traditional Lucia boats bob with their trademark canopies. Nearby, a small Museum of Navigational Instruments exhibits precious objects used by ancient mariners to navigate the seven seas. Perched on a hill just above San Giovanni square, the elegant 19th century Villa Crella was designed by the same architect as the Grand Hotel Serbelloni. The local Gandola family spent years painstakingly restoring this neoclassical gem and its two-acre garden to brilliant effect. Guests can prearrange tastings of wines and delicacies of local production on the lake-view terrace and visit their small museum of traditional tools used in viticulture.

Museum of Navigational Instruments,
Piazza Don Miotti,
San Giovanni di Bellagio
Open every day 10 – 1,
by appointment only in the afternoon
Entrance: € 5.00

Villa Crella,
Via al Crotto 26,
22021 Bellagio, Italy,
Tel: +39 031 4147448

Pilgrimage to San Martino

“One can’t describe the beauty of the Italian lakes, nor would one try if one could.”

Henry James

The central lake area has quaint lakeside villages and wooded hills right out of a storybook, and the walk to San Martino church gives you the best of both worlds. We begin in the lakeside gem of Cadenabbia, a town just south of Menaggio that is famous for its bounty of bright azaleas and rhododendrons in the spring and its prominence as a destination for emperors, queens and aristocrats on the Grand Tour during the 19th century. The Anglican Church here by the lake was the first protestant church to be consecrated in Italy in 1891 and still offers services and weddings in English during the summer months. As you stroll through the historic center of Cadenabbia, it is easy to imagine the fascinating figures who once vacationed behind the windows of these elegant palazzi. Following the signs for San Martino, a cobblestone path passes by several small shrines with mosaics depicting the mysteries of the Rosary and the Cappella degli Alpini, where moving paintings commemorate the fallen mountain infantrymen.

The 16th-century Church of San Martino – once you get there! – is certainly worth the climb with its panoramic views. It’s easy to see why this lone church perched on the rock has been so beloved by pilgrims and serenity seekers for centuries, even if the church itself rarely opens. Local lore tells of a young girl who discovered a 15th century wooden statue of Saint Mary and baby Jesus up here, which had probably been hidden in the mountains to protect it from Swiss invaders. Years later, it disappeared from its new church home, only to be rediscovered on this very mountain. So strong was Our Lady’s desire to be adored on these mountains, the villagers imagined, that it would only be right to construct a church for that purpose – and the Church of San Martino was born!

Santuario della Madonna della Grazie di San Martino, approximately one-hour hike from the Cadenabbia ferry station. (NB: we recommend wearing sturdy footwear and bringing along plenty of water)

2018-07-10T18:02:37+00:00April 9th, 2018|Categories: Walks|0 Comments

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