Bellagio Lake Como slow lake como-27

Bellagio, Lake Como’s pearl is one of the most beautiful towns on Lake Como Italy. Bellagio is an international destination known for its majestic villas over-looking the Lake, and for being the home to famous individuals. Bellagio it is considered one of the most beautiful traditional Italian town, even if as Italian and Lake Como resident I probably got used to it, I have enough about the beauty of traditional Italian towns. I see it, but I am looking for more than just beauty.      

Bellagio Lake Como slow lake como-27

My article was also inspired by The most beautiful towns to visit on Lake Como finally talking about The towns on Lake Como, that are so many and so special, each of them is unique.  

Being a member of the Slow Lake Como team, I have the mission to show you what an insider consider the best of Lake Como. We want you to fall in love with unknown corners of the lake, undiscovered places for the residents too, even in world-famous Bellagio!

Bellagio center and World Famous Villas

This is a point for many residents of Lake Como’s shores. The town center of Bellagio is for an extensive period of time (March – November) crowded with visitors and tourists, this is making the town a tourist destination rather than a community town center. Have a look around when you visit it, can you find any alimentari (small food store) or supermarket there? Or is the center full of bars, restaurants, and shops closing down in November?

Anyway I agree with most of the people telling Bellagio has still a charming and relaxed atmosphere 🙂 while there you can visit Villa Melzi and his botanical garden, you can do some shopping, walking in the narrowed streets of the center. Admire Church San Giacomo, built between 1075 and 1125, at the top of the historic center. Walk in Villa Serbelloni Park, above the historic center, has an 18th-century garden and great views of the lake. It’s open April through November, please check dates before arrival.

Discover The Museum of Navigational Instruments, in the hamlet of San Giovanni, can be reached on foot in about 25 minutes, public boat, or in summer on the tourist train. It’s open daily, mornings only. (Thanks to tripsavy.com for the info)

The point is if you want to go deep, to discover the soul of Bellagio, you need to explore a bit more around. Here is what Slow Lake Como discovered and love about the area.

The Toc is a traditional meal prepared by local residents during important religious celebrations like weddings and baptisms. Discover more about this food tradition of Bellagio

Pescallo lays on the same promontory of Bellagio but hidden on the other side, facing the Lecco branch perennially admiring the breath-taking show of the Grigne. Really far from every clamor, just a few steps away from the place most visited in Lake Como area Pescallo used to be a finishing village. In Pescallo I did my first kayaking in Lake Como (just a few years ago with a colleague from Argentina) supported by Bellagio Water Sports, where local expert Michele can organize for you SUP and kayak tours ).

pescallo-lake como italy

Madonna del Ghisallo: the Patron Saint of Cycling  

Just a short drive into the mountains south of Bellagio or 40 minutes by bus, you’ll find one of Italy’s legendary cycling routes – Ghisallo Pass. The 552m climb over the distance of 10,6km along the hairpins of this famous hill is not just a challenge for cycling enthusiasts. Ghisallo Pass is a popular feature of the most renowned cycling races like Giro di Lombardia, Giro d’Italia, and many others.

Legend has it that in medieval times, a local count was being attacked by bandits when he saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary, and running towards this vision saved him. Thus, the Madonna del Ghisallo became the patroness of travelers. Then, in 1949 a local priest managed to persuade Pope Pius XII to admit her as the patroness of cyclists. Since then, the small chapel has become a shrine to cycling legends, both living and deceased, and provides a memorial to those who have fallen in our sport.

The views on top of the mountain are spectacular, but the scenery is not the only reason to come here. Ghisallo Pass is literally a place of pilgrimage for cyclists and supporters from all over the world

Partly because the collection of cycling artifacts accumulated was becoming far too big for the small chapel, a purpose-built Museo di Ciclismo has been created nearby on the mountaintop. In contrast to the traditional style of the chapel of the Madonna, the ultra-modern museum building is cut into the very side of the mountain itself – its massive plate glass windows affording breathtaking views of the Lombardia hills and the Lago di Lecco below.

My research about Bellagio lead me to this quick article about a gluten-free experience in Bellagio, I think it could be useful for some of you. Check Gluten Free Palate website.

 

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Photo: Pescallo & Bellagio Lake Como by Slow Lake Como

Sara
Discover the towns on Lake Como Italy with us, click here discover our tours! or ask about our tours in Lake Como
info@slowlakecomo.com mobile +39 392 027 9675.

Musso st Eufemia church view - towns on Lake Como - Slow Lake Como

What if I told you that Musso, one of the peaceful towns on Lake Como (Italy), has something to do with the cathedral in the city center?

To tell this story we have to come back to the 14th century and rediscover the village’s heritage: a castle, wars, the Medeghino’s enterprises, marble quarries and a botanic garden… let us try to put the pieces together.

The headland ‘Sasso di Musso’, a natural border dividing Musso from Dongo, is the marble quarries area. Since the first century AD, Romans have been exploiting the quarries to extract the valuable marble as proved by some artifacts’ finding. In the medieval age, the Musso marble has been used to build the Como cathedral’s dome, facade, and Broletto. It was a long way down from the Alto Lario (North Lake Como) to Como: the marble was first carried by wagons and then loaded on ships up to the city. Curiously, the cathedral’s restoration gave new life to the quarries, which reopen towards the end of the 18th century. Different companies managed the marble’s extraction during the years replacing the old handwork with new mechanic techniques. The authorities decided then to stop the works in the quarries in order to protect the remains of the Medeghino’s castle and the surrounding territory.

Who was this mysterious Medeghino and which role did he play in the village’s history? His real name was Gian Giacomo Medici and even though he did not have boundaries with the prestigious family from Florence, he was pretty famous in the Como area. As regards the surname ‘Medeghino’, we know that he probably earned it because of his low height.

The violent enterprises shared with bandits forced him to seek shelter on the Lake Como. The Medeghino finally succeeded in getting the Musso castle from the Duke of Milan after committing a murder for him. In the first half of the 15th century, he even ran a war-making short-term deal according to his interests. Thanks to his military engagement, he almost creates his personal realm, not recognized in the end by the Milan senate. At his death, his brother Pope Pio IV ordered to build up a monument in the Milan cathedral entirely realized using the Musso marble.

In this same area, you can find today the so-called ‘Giardino del Merlo’, a botanic garden overlooking the lake. Here, Mediterranean vegetation meets the alpine one to shape three main spaces: the main one with the plants sided by woods and natural growth. Giovanni Manzi firstly had the idea to develop the garden in the second half of the 18th century inspired by the Riviera Ligure and its cliffs. The ‘Giardino del Merlo’ association now takes care of the park and its plants, trying to recover it from the destruction due to the quarries. Walking through tunnels and caves, you can quite easily reach the peak and find the Sant’Eufemia church. Stunning views on the lake will sweeten the climb on a hot sunny day of summer.

If you would like to find out more about the village and its past, our advice is to visit the museum: there you can imagine the miners’ everyday working life through the old pictures and the reproductions. You can also see how the Medeghino’s castle looked like in the 15th century…precious memories for a precious village!

Musso st Eufemia church view - towns on Lake Como - Slow Lake Como
Photo credits: Nicole Della Torre

Nicole
Discover the towns on 
Lake Como Italy with us, click here discover our tours! or ask about our tour in Musso 
info@slowlakecomo.com mobile +39 392 027 9675.

Orrido di Nesso: the hidden waterfall
The heritage of Musso & The Giardino del Merlo
Churches, Castles, Ancient Ports and Dream Landscapes. Rezzonico and Santa Maria.
Brienno.The Labyrinth Village
The Village of Hell. Lezzeno and the Devil’s Bridge.
Cantù is Beautiful! Galliano and the Museum of Wood

Towns on Lake Como Italy Cantu

While driving among the towns on Lake Como Italy headed to Cantù, the sign you first see on the way speaks clearly: welcome to the furniture town. Indeed, all along the twentieth century and over the town has been recognized and not only by its inhabitants as the point of reference for the furniture design and making.

You can easily come across the tracks of the furniture making history just by entering the Liceo Artistico Melotti museum. There a lot of furniture has been collected such as ancient and precious chairs, tables, panels, bureaus rich in details and well preserved. Fausto Melotti was an important sculptor and painter who thought and ran the old Regia Scuola di Cantù, the same structure now carrying his name. The panels which could be found in the museum have been over worked following the carving and inlay techniques.

But there’s much more you can discover in Cantù besides the furniture design and making. As far as the architecture is concerned, the Galliano basilica shows some remarkable characteristics. Located on the Galliano hill, the structure has always been conceived as a house of worship till the dedication to Christianity. Today it represents an interesting example of Romanesque style: few and little windows leaving space to simple and clean frescoes.

Cradle of designers and craftsmen, Cantù welcomes you to discover how theoretical culture and practical skills perfectly meet giving birth to actual pieces of art.

Towns on Lake Como Italy Cantu

Nicole
Discover the towns on 
Lake Como Italy with us,
info@slowlakecomo.com mobile +39 392 027 9675.

Orrido di Nesso: the hidden waterfall
The heritage of Musso & The Giardino del Merlo
Churches, Castles, Ancient Ports and Dream Landscapes. Rezzonico and Santa Maria.
Brienno.The Labyrinth Village
The Village of Hell. Lezzeno and the Devil’s Bridge.
Cantù is Beautiful! Galliano and the Museum of Wood

cloisters among towns on Lake Como Italy Piona

Traveling around the different towns on Lake Como in Italy, you can easily come across suggestive cloisters with a long history to tell.

The landscape of the area, full of nature elements such as mountains and lakes perfectly suits for the quiet and sacred atmosphere you can perceive in a cloister. Traditionally associated with religion and in particular with monks, some cloisters have been abandoned during the years and then intended to host public places, others have preserved a spiritual and religious function.

The complexes of Piona abbey (Colico), Sant’ Abbondio (Como) and Santa Maria delle Grazie (Gravedona) offer some examples.

At the foot of Legnone Mountain and with great glimpses on Lake Como, the Piona abbey in Colico is the ideal place to plunge into nature. The main part of the complex is the cloister: built up around thirteenth century upon request of the prior from then, it has been realised and decorated in a style between Romanesque and Gothic.

The ex-convent lying near the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Gravedona hosts an evocative cloister frescoed with the telling’s Jesus life and Augustinian saints. Abandoned for a long time, the cloister serves today as a library. Every summer the building becomes the suitable location for the Gravedona Harmony festival dedicated to well-being.

Beside the Sant’Abbondio Basilica in Como you can find another example of cloister, which once was the centre of a Benedictine medieval monastery. The structure has been renovated several times up to becoming in 2007 one of the branches of Como university.

The typical square structure recalls for the four cardinal directions as well as the four elements of the universe, while the fountain and the tree of life usually at the centre represent Christ as source of life and food for blessed. Though the use of the cloister has changed throughout the years, they still lie upon the same concept of silence and reflection.

Nicole
Discover the towns on 
Lake Como Italy with us,
info@slowlakecomo.com mobile +39 392 027 9675. 

Orrido di Nesso: the hidden waterfall
The heritage of Musso & The Giardino del Merlo
Churches, Castles, Ancient Ports and Dream Landscapes. Rezzonico and Santa Maria.
Brienno.The Labyrinth Village
The Village of Hell. Lezzeno and the Devil’s Bridge.
Cantù is Beautiful! Galliano and the Museum of Wood

Lezzeno - Towns on Lake Como Italy - Slow Lake Como

Despite the proximity to Bellagio, few tourists visit this charming town on Lake Como. Maybe somebody is frightened by his reputation as  a village of witches and smugglers.  If Bellagio, beautiful and famous, it is the place of the great hotels, shopping and glamour, Lezzeno at a very short distance, is the place where you can discover the most hidden and mysterious soul of Lake Como area.

The two villages are separated by a curved road between rough cliffs. . If you have the courage to go this way and overcome the Devil’s Bridge, located right between the two villages, you will be rewarded with amazing views, fishermen’s homes where time seems to have stopped,mountains peaking on the village and on the lake.

Lezzeno is the longest town on the lake, 7 kms inhabited.  Inhabitants here unlike other villages didn’t choose to live too far from the shores and this justifies the numerous fishing activities still well represented nowadays. Village life here  had, and has nowadays,  a strong sense of belonging and complicity. During  the epic years of smuggling  it wasn’t uncommon for strangers who asked for information about people of the village, hear the inhabitants answer they didn’t know them at all and then discover the addressees were very close relatives.

Every year in March, on the occasion of the feast of St. Joseph, the banks of the country are illuminated by giant roaches. We know that in Lezzeno have lived many witches, then executed and burned. It is not, however, to recall these events that the burners are turned on. This is a competition between the different hamlets of the village.

The purpose of the competition is to build the stack that will burn for longer than any, but it must be defended from the actions of disturbances of opponents. All the contenders must be young and live in the hamlet they want to represent. On the morning of decisive day the different groups position their pyres waiting till it gets dark then once the fires are lit they all look out at the lake because in the dark a “pirate raid” from other hamlets  could try to put out the enemies’ bonfire.  Beauty, mystery, history and legends. A little paradise awaits you in Lezzeno,…… just beyond the Devil’s bridge.

Lezzeno - Towns on Lake Como Italy - Slow Lake Como

Davide,
Discover the towns on 
Lake Como Italy with us,
info@slowlakecomo.com mobile +39 392 027 9675. 

Orrido di Nesso: the hidden waterfall
The heritage of Musso & The Giardino del Merlo
Churches, Castles, Ancient Ports and Dream Landscapes. Rezzonico and Santa Maria.
Brienno.The Labyrinth Village
The Village of Hell. Lezzeno and the Devil’s Bridge.
Cantù is Beautiful! Galliano and the Museum of Wood