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May 2013--Venice, Ravenna, Levanto, Milan & the Lakes where the Rain Gods Reigned

May 2013--Venice, Ravenna, Levanto, Milan & the Lakes where the Rain Gods Reigned

Jun 6th, 2013, 03:52 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Driving between Lake Maggiore and Lake Como looked to be quite simple and should take about 2 hours. I wanted to take as scenic a route as possible and our Garmin GPS seemed to be of like mind!!

Two problems caused the 2 hours to become almost 4 hours. Midday stopped traffic for miles usually meant either road construction or an accident, having to move aside for several emergency vehicles answered that question. I was just glad we weren't inside the approaching tunnel when we had to give way to them. 45 minutes later we saw a tipped over 18 wheeler that must have been carrying nothing but glass---what a mess on the road. I kept asking our car not to pick up any glass in it's tires, it worked because we made it through the broken glass without incident.

The second problem was our route took us in and out of Switzerland by Mendrisio and Chiasso. There were extremely long lines of traffic trying to merge entering and exiting at the border points.

By the time we arrived in Bellagio, although it was much cooler than normal, we finally had days with more sun than rain. Hurray After the one evening of heavy rains we experienced in Bellagio we were rewarded by the sight of beautiful snow topped mountains from our apartment. It probably was not a common occurance for May 24th on Lake Come because the hotel housekeeper was so excited when she pointed it out to us.

I've carried an image of Bellagio in my head for so long that the town has grown into something much larger than the reality I discovered. I was surprised how small it was. I was not quite disappointed but if my excitement was a balloon, a little of the air went out of it after my first walk around Bellagio

It was pretty but it didn't seem to have a town center where people would gather in the evening. The Piazza delle Chiesa which might seem the usual place for this to happen was a parking lot. I thought only one or two of the narrow salitas were very picturesque. More shortly, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jun 6th, 2013, 05:42 PM
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My own short visit to Bellagio gave me the impression that the main appeal of the town is the view, rather than the town itself.

Yeah, sunshine!!
Dayle is offline  
Jun 7th, 2013, 06:16 AM
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Dayle, I agree with you.

Lake Como- For our stay in Bellagio I chose Residence L'Ulivo, an apartment that is part of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. While our standard apartment was very simply furnished compared to the lavish hotel decor, we had access to all the hotel amenities, including indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts and fitness center. The communal deck had mountain panorama views with limited views of the lake; setting was beautiful and quiet. The apartments had daily housekeeping in the rate which even included cleaning our dishes every day. What a treat for me!! The price was 142 euro per night and we paid a one time fee of 7 euros to have wifi during our stay.

Our first full day in Bellagio we purchased the midlake day pass. We went to Villa Carlotta as early as possible to avoid the inevitable tour groups. Sunny weather had us shedding our coats. Finally a day without needing coats or unbrellas--whoopee!!

We took the boat to Varenna and got to have our first meal outdoors in 11 days of travel. I should state that I don't eat outside if I have to wear a coat and scarf or if my food becomes cold in temperature before I can finish eating it. I think of the outdoor heaters as adding to my comfort and not having my dining comfort depend on them

While sitting outside at the sunny Varenna Caffe I could see the attraction of Lake Como. The ideal would be to have a personal watercraft to meander and play on the lake and then pop into one of the small towns for lunch on the water. What a life!!

Lunch at Varenna Caffe was one sandwhich, one salad, water, wine and beer which cost 26 euros.

We spent so long soaking up the sunrays that we gave up our planned visit to Villa Monastero for more time touring the lake. After water views of Menaggio, Cadenabbia and Tremezzo we got off in Lenno to walk a short way along the Greenway, the 10 km path mostly along the water linking Colonno with Cadenabbia.

Once again Bellagio at night was quiet resulting in very poor people watching.

The next day we wanted to see more of the lake so decided to visit Como for lunch. Since the slower boat takes almost two hours for the route we decided to take that down and take a high speed boat back which would take half that time. Since this was the same cold morning that had snow of the mountains that didn't have snow the day before, everyone chose to ride inside the boat. I did brave the elements often to take videos to record the lovely views we saw.

Cold but sunny we walked to Le Colonne on Piazza Mazzini for lunch in their cozy glass enclosed outdoor patio. Our lunch of a shared caprese salad, 2 pasta dishes, wine, coffee and coperto cost 42 euros.

After lunch we visited the Tempio Voltiano dedicated to Alessandro Volta, a Como pioneer in electricity, something that I knew would interest my husband, a retired electrical engineer. When planning a visit to Como, it is worth noting that sights like the Duomo and Tempio Voltiano are closed between 12-3. For our short visit I had to choose one or the other. We had visited many Duomos but there is only one Tempio Voltiano!!

We walked around Como without a decent city map looking for Castiglioni Gastronomia on Via Cantu. I wanted to see what the deli that Rough Guide describes as wonderful looked like. We hadn't seen what I would call a deli during this trip to Italy. We like to use prepared foods rather than cook when we stay in apartments.

The fast boat back to Bellagio was fun. It was amazing how quickly and efficiently the crew works to dock the boat. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jun 8th, 2013, 04:00 PM
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Our last full day in Bellagio we stayed in town. Since Bellagio is small there are places to walk if you want to get away from crowds. Punta Spartivento, the "point that divides the winds" is at the tip of Bellagio's promontory. There is a small picnic area and a restaurant. Pescallo is a very small harbor surrounded by a few houses, small hotel and restaurant is short walk east. You have a view of the Grigne mountains and Lago di Lecco.

We were pleased with all of the places we chose for dining in Bellagio

Ristoro Forma & Gusta on Salita Mella-- Ron and I each had pasta and shared water and half liter of wine, with coperto our meal was 33 euros

We went to Bilacus on Salita Serbelloni close to opening at 7 because we did not have a reservation. We shared an antipasti, each had a secondi, shared a contorni, a dessert, water and wine our meal was 54.50 euros

Trattoria San Giacomo is also on Salita Serbelloni. They do not take reservations and are full soon after they open at 7. When all the tables are filled they just tell people to come back in 1 1/2 hours or 2 hours. I had the feeling that if you have the English menu you might not see all the kitchen has to offer on that menu. They were out of both of our first secondi choices but our meal was very good nonetheless. Our meal cost 48 euros there.


Our time in northern Italy ended with 3 nights in Milan. I like cities and we found Milan easy to navigate using the metro and bus.

I chose a hotel within a short walk from the train station because we would be taking the airport bus early in the morning on our departure day. Early like 5:30am--what was I thinking when I made our flight reservations My problem was I had no idea that Malpensa airport is so far from Milan city. Our flight with Lufthansa/USAir left at 9am, since our seats would not be assigned until we checked in we wanted to be there as early as possible.

The Best Western Atlantic Hotel at Via Napo Torriani 24 is only about a 5 minute walk to the train station. I prepaid for the best rate and the cost for a superior double for our 3 night stay was 315 euros, at check out we had to pay the city tax, 4 euro per person per night. Breakfast was included and was very good. We also had free wifi. The location is quiet but not especially charming, typical of most areas near a train station.

I waited too long to purchase tickets for the Last Supper, or so I thought. Someone on TripAdvisor recommended checking with SelectItaly a month or so before the dates desired, they sometimes had tickets available. It was a little more expensive at $22 per ticket than purchasing them from the official online site at 8 euros but much cheaper than taking a tour of Milan which includes a visit to the Last Supper, the tours vary but start at about 70 euros per person.

Viewing the Last Supper was one of the highlights of our trip. After seeing it in person, it has become one of our "yes you must see" recommendations for anyone visiting Milan.

We enjoyed walking around window shopping in the Quadrilatero d'Oro for the high, high end fashions, Corso Vittorio Emanuele for mid range prices and Via Torino for the budget conscious.

Our walk on a sunny Sunday afternoon through Giardini Pubblici found most of Milan enjoying themselves. We stopped to watch the many dogs in the dog park--almost better than people watching.

to be concluded soon!! Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jun 9th, 2013, 09:26 AM
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We stayed at Hotel Pergola on the back side of Bellagio--a decent walk to get to the ferry stop. Has anything been done to the huge hotel facing the water?

Super TR, Deborah.
TDudette is online now  
Jun 9th, 2013, 09:40 AM
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Enjoyed reading it!
Saraho is online now  
Mar 25th, 2014, 12:45 PM
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Great report! We're hoping to visit the same areas this summer, and your report will be very helpful as we plan. Thank you!
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