Day seven of my European road trip adventure left from Turin and headed straight for the town of Como on its namesake Lake Como, then up to Bellagio and down to Bergamo. It was a great day and here are the highlights.
Lake Como, Como and Bellagio, Italy
I was supposed to go to my good friend Melisa’s wedding in Bellagio last year but I sadly wasn’t able to make it. I had never been to Lake Como so I definitely wanted to get there as soon as possible. So this road trip presented me with that possibility and as you’d imagine, Lake Como is amazing. You’d have to figure that George Clooney wouldn’t live somewhere that sucked!
The first town you hit when coming up from Turin is Como. Como is a cute little town with a big cathedral in the center of the old town, which is right off the lake. It is a nice town to walk around for a bit and there is of course plenty of shopping, great restaurants and gelaterias but the main attraction is Lake Como.
The boats crowd the dock in Como and offer all kinds of sightseeing boat rides. I didn’t do one but I am sure they are great. With the scenery, how could it not be?
After lunch in Como, we headed up to Bellagio via an awesome windy and narrow road. I was a little nervous in our SUV because of the narrowness of the road and the tendency of Italian bus drivers to fly around blind turns but we made it comfortable with only a few scares. Mainly from those idiot Italians motorcycle drivers who feel compelled to ride your ass and then pass at all costs as if they are being chased by the plague.
That aside, the ride was incredibly scenic and one I will never forget. The views are stunning and the little towns are adorable. I wish there was more room to stop to take photos but I was driving and there aren’t many viewpoints along the road.
About 35km or so from Como is Bellagio. Bellagio is phenomenal. It is just as beautiful as you want it to be with a cute little town perched on a hill overlooking the lake.
I was excited because I have stayed at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas so many times and now I can say I’ve actually been to Bellagio. My silly little victories aside, the only issue with Bellagio is the amount of tourists and the serious lack of parking.
Like many small towns in Italy, they are overrun with tourists in the summer months. It is a little aggravating because like you, they all want to see a great, authentic small Italian lake town. And like you, they take pictures and foul up yours. They also travel in busses and groups and drive you crazy but this is Italy in the summer so you have to deal with it. As I always say, tourists wouldn’t go to a place if it sucked!
But the scenery in Bellagio makes you forget about the tourist invasion. The little nook streets up stairs, the small shops selling jewelry and anything else, the distinctively Italian architecture and again, Lake Como. What could be more beautiful?
Lake Como was a big winner with me. I really loved it and will definitely return soon and spend a lot of time on the lake, cruising around and stopping at more little towns.
Bergamo was a town that I had always heard about but never really thought much of going to visit. I knew it was a big tourist town and it had a cool old town but again this is Italy and most towns are like that. But last week at my buddy’s wedding in Germany, my friend Alberto, who is from Italy, told me Bergamo was one of his favorite places. So I took the locals advice and checked it out. He was right, it is a great spot.
The first thing you notice about Bergamo is the citta alta or high city. It looms over the modern city below in spectacular fashion. After a drive up to it, you pull into this old medieval looking city to have a look around.
Walking around amongst the throngs of tourists you see cathedrals, and gothic architecture that is very impressive. The hilly old city is a good workout as you stop and eat at one or two of the thousand gelaterias in the old city. You can also stop and eat at amazing pizza places like this one on the picture where they cut your slice with scissors and you get your money’s worth for 6 euros.
Outside the ramparts of the old city are great panoramic views of the city below. There are also some cool old houses lining the hills down toward the modern city. They also offer cool activities like a zip line that runs parallel to the old city walls and looked pretty good. I didn’t get a chance to try it but next time I am in Bergamo, I’ll have a go at it.