by Casey Thompson © 2019 Bike It! Bellagio
Bellagio is the ultimate location for cycling—the stunning scenery of Lake Como, the challenge of the mythical climbs nearby, and its many excellent restaurant and cafés immersed in its romantic atmosphere--will have you falling in love with our incredible cycling destination. You'll want to return to Bellagio every year.
Bellagio is the ideal starting point for nearly any ride on Lake Como because its ferry terminal offers easy transport to nearly all the other towns on Lake Como, most importantly Cadenabbia and Menaggio, and Varenna: the car ferry ports on the Western and Eastern branches of the lake that you travel to with your bike. (*Cyclists with bikes must use the car ferry.) Bellagio has the only ferry terminal that goes to these other main ports directly! The 102nd Giro d’Italia is returning to Lake Como this May, and the annual Giro di Lombardia will take place October 12th. If you come to cycle during one of these event weekends, you're sure to have an unforgettable cycling holiday!
Where to Cycle
There are so many spectacular rides and routes that can originate from Bellagio, the number of cyclists coming to Bellagio continues to increase. When you come to Bellagio, you can experience several iconic climbs, such as the Madonna del Ghisallo, the Muro di Sormano, and many, many more. The Bike It! Bellagio website lists more than 30 routes, including maps, distance, elevation, and points of interest. (Visit our shop, and we will share the GPX files to any of our routes without charge.) Of course, if you are interested in joining a daily tour or want a custom tour, Bike It! Bellagio offers such options as well. We also rent Hammerhead Karoo GPS devices if you want to try different routes at your own pace. (We upload the GPX files for our routes to the Karoos too.)
Where to Eat and Drink
Food, drink, and gelato are always on the mind of cyclists (right?). If you are staying in Bellagio, you must check out the many different and delicious places to fuel or recover from your rides! Let us know what direction you are headed, and we can make some recommendations for you.
Breakfast and Coffee (Colazione e caffè)
Pasticceria Sancassani - The cutest little pastry shop and café nestled in the neighborhood of Visgnola above Bellagio. It's a nice 10-minute walk along a cobblestone path from our shop. You must try one of their fresh homemade brioches with a cappuccino, as well as try one of their many pastries (our favorite are the cannoncini!) Indulge yourself! Looking for an afternoon treat post-ride on a hot day? Go for their "crema di caffe'" or a gelato!
Bar Pasticceria Rossi - This bar is an authentic lakeside spot in downtown Bellagio where you can grab a fresh pastry and coffee before heading on your day's adventures. It's also a classic hangout for an aperitivo in the evening!
Marco Benzina - Marco is our legendary next door neighbor! If you join one of our group tours, you'll have the opportunity to try Marco's delicious pizza, piadine, foccaccia, and many other signature creations as part of the post-ride lunch. Lunch at Marco's is exactly the "off the beaten" path experience you are looking for. (Marco doesn't have a website, this is truly the locals' place!)
Trattoria Baita Belvedere - This charming, authentic, back-country restaurant is located about 4km up the road toward Ghisallo, boasts incredible panoramic views of Lake Como, and offers local, rustic dishes that you can't find elsewhere in Bellagio. Try their Poltenta Uncia and Pizzocherri and go for the mixed appetizer. Dessert? Gelato with their freshly picked berries from their farm. :-) This is the perfect place to stop for lunch when descending from the Ghisallo. They also offer a free shuttle to and from Bellagio for dinner reservations!
Far Out - Just as the name implies, this restaurant offers some different dishes--something out there! Located in downtown, Far Out offers a variety of tasty dishes, ranging from classic Italian specialties to local delicacies. Refuel after your ride with some pasta or ravioli and then try a "fritto misto" to satisfy your taste buds.
Ristorante Silvio - Try one of Bellagio's signature dishes here: Risotto con pesce persico. Silvio offers a wide array of lake fish platters that will give you a taste of Lake Como, literally. Visit this award-winning restaurant for a perfect ending to your ride or before you go out in the afternoon to be fueled by fish.
La Fontana - In downtown Bellagio, about mid-way along one of the farthest set of steps, La Fontana offers a quaint and welcoming atmosphere. The owners are two brothers who will make sure you enjoy the best dish for you based on your preferences. You must try their pistachio soufflé for dessert (imagine next level, Italian-style lava cake!
Ittiturismo Mella - "From the fish net to the pan", you will eat freshly caught lake fish at Mella! Located in the San Giovanni neighborhood, this family-owned restaurant is lakeside and has a homey atmosphere, as it's all related to their hobby, passion, and profession of la pesca or fishing on Lake Como. Try their daily menu deal where you get a full menu trying all sorts of lake fish for a great price! Did you know that their family dog "Ice" was featured it the Netflix series "Dogs"? Check it out!
La Punta - Located where the three branches of Lake Como meet, also known as the "Y" of the lake, or la punta, the point, where Bellagio juts out, giving Lake Como it's upside down "Y" shape. The perfect place for a romantic dinner, it has a sophisticated and calm atmosphere, as you sit with a beautiful view of the lake before you, while enjoying some freshly caught fish!
Le Darsene di Loppia - A picturesque restaurant setting in Loppia, a tiny neighborhood next to Bellagio will leave you enchanted by its peaceful and dreamy ambiance and even more so by its delicately crafted dishes where you'll savor every bite.
*Keep in mind, many restaurants are closed 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. and some are closed on unusual days. Be sure to check their websites for such information.
Where to Stay
There are many hotels in Bellagio, but there are also many apartment options and B&B’s, which offer a more personal setting to experience the local Italian culture. Contact us with your accomodation needs, and we'll make some suggestions to help you find the best place for your stay.
To See and Do in Bellagio
Whether you’re having a rest day or traveling with a partner who doesn’t cycle, there are plenty of things to do in or near Bellagio.
Shopping: Downtown Bellagio's stairways and little narrow streets are full of shops, cafés, and restaurants. You won't have any trouble finding a souvenir or a special keepsake item from one of the many local artisans our boutiques to remember your trip to Lake Como! Remember that Lake Como is famous for silk, so be sure to take a look at those shops!
Churches: Bellagio and its surrounding neighborhoods have several churches! Make a nice walk/hike out of it and visit them all in one day! The area churches are S. Maria di Loppia, S. Maria Annunciata di Breno, San Giacomo, San Giorgio, San Martino, and San Giovanni.
Villa Melzi Gardens: Take a peaceful walk through these gardens, stop and smell the flowers and enjoy being on vacation, take in the moment!
Kayak & SUP - A must-do activity when in Bellagio! Michele is a former professional rower and an all-around awesome person who will guide you on a memorable tour on Lake Como! Join one of his kayak tours or arrange a stand-up paddleboarding session with him, you'll have so much fun!
Wakeboarding - Hit up Club Morgan in Lezzeno for your extreme watersport needs! They have wakeboarding, waterskiing, wakesurfing, and canoeing! Be sure to reserve their equipment ahead of time.
Hiking - Lake Como is an incredible place for hiking, there are so many old mule tracks and horse trails, as well as man-made paths immersed in the woods. The many Pre-Alp mountaintops offer postcard-perfect, breathtaking views over Lake Como. Come see us for some suggestions! From Bellagio, you must go to Mt. San Primo, and from Menaggio to Mt. Grona--our two favorites!
Swimming - Any triathletes out there? The best open-water swimming spots are from San Giovanni's beach (via alla spiaggia) or from Pescallo Bay. Onno is also a great spot, which you can reach by car or bike of course!
San Giovanni is the best free beach in Bellagio to put down a towel and relax, or take a dip in the lake!
Navigational Instruments Museum - A nice place to visit and learn about tools and instruments used for navigation over the waters. It's open 10:00 to 13:00.
Villa Serbelloni Walking Tour - Offered twice daily, this tour takes you to see the Villa Serebelloni Gardens and now Rockefeller Center property. Learn about some of Bellagio's aristocratic history.
Lido di Bellagio - Bellagio's beach club is a great place for people of all ages to hang out and enjoy the lake by day or night, listening to good music, dancing, and having a great time!
Day trips to other places by ferry:
by Dan Merlino (guest blogger) © 2019 Bike It! Bellagio
At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. The previous year we had done a tremendous tour with TriLakeComo around Como and then over to the Italian Alps to ride up the iconic Stelvio and Gavia passes--great guides, wonderful food, fantastic routes! But Rome to the Ghisallo was a 6-day pilgrimage from Rome to Como, over 500 miles with lots of climbing. Daunting! However, I love Casey and Luca and their team, so I put my faith in them. That was the right call.
The trip was spectacular. The ride started with a blessing by a priest at the Vatican and ended with a peal of bells and a welcome blessing at the bike chapel on top of Il Ghisallo! How can anything go wrong when you have divine intervention! The trip went so smoothly, perhaps because it was so well planned, with top-of-the-line Bianchi bikes, great scenery, wonderful hotels, and excellent food! All we had to do was train.
The route was epic. Bellisima! The beautiful walled city of Siena was magical. Pisa’s Leaning Tower automatically made you tilt your head. Only in Italy! And then a very backdoor, intimate ride into the Cinque Terre. We even stopped at the Bianchi factory for a visit along the final stage to see their incredible attention to quality in production.
Join us this year: 2019 Roma-Ghisallo Trip Itinerary
by Casey Thompson © 2018 Bike It! Bellagio
We just returned from a week-long trip to the Alps with some strong riders from the States and Canada. This is our third trip to the Alps with touring cyclists, and each time it just gets better sharing the climbs along these iconic passes. The Alps aren’t as far away from Lake Como as one may think. Bormio is just a 3-hour drive! If you have a week or two for a cycling holiday, Lake Como and Bormio make the perfect match for an unforgettable trip. Start in Bellagio with us and warm up along some pre-Alpine climbs and lakeside rolling roads, before heading to the giants northeast of Lake Como. Much of Italy’s cycling history lies between us and Bormio. It’s a great way to relive some epic Giro d’Italia and Giro di Lombardia moments with your own eyes, doing the climbs yourself! Check out some pictures below:
4 Awesome Climbs from Bormio
Passo dello Stelvio: 2,747m a.s.l., it's the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps! Seeing all the switchbacks you climb from above is certainly a great feeling. And we were fortunate to find a pro Bianchi team rider at the top!
Torri di Fraele & Laghi di Cancano: This quiet and gentle climb takes riders to the 13th century fortress tower ruins (the tower served as a border between the valleys of Bormio and Engadina) and the artifical lakes of Cancano, part of a hydroelectric plant.
Passo Gavia: Another of one of the highest paved passes in the Alps. At 2,651m a.s.l. it's often the "Cima Coppi" in the Giro d'Italia.
Passo del Mortirolo: Also known as the "Cima Pantani", this climb is also featured often in the Giro...and it's one the hardest climbs you'll ever do...we can testify!
OFF THE BIKE:
Bagni Vecchi: The "ancient" bathes of Bormio
Bagni Nuovi: The "new"/modern thermal bathes and spa
Livigno: Duty-free shopping town in the heart of the Alps ... also great for anything outdoors! Stay a night, like we did, then climb the Bernina and Forcola Passes!