Bellagio – Lombardy, Italy

The Finest Location of Any Lake Town

On this sylvan promontory, where the fjordlike lakes of Como and Lecco join, those to the grand life born should check into any of the lakefront rooms at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and revel in the same alpine magic that captivated Pliny the Younger in the 1st century A.D.

The Belle Epoque hotel’s cov­eted Royal Suite once hosted crowned heads, but every room has the same royal view of Lake Como, whose natural beauty attracted Goethe, Shelley, Byron, and many others, Wordsworth described Lake Como as “a treasure which the earth keeps to itself.”

Bellagio itself is one of the prettiest towns in Europe, even though it’s no longer the exclu­sive, aristocratic address it once was. Life has mellowed, but the band still plays by the lake under the stars, and the bracing air and riot of gardens and lush flowers hint of something inherently Italian about this otherwise Swiss scenario.

The dowager hotel’s real charm is its palpable sense of the past and the luxury of its formal parkland. (Don’t confuse it with the 50- acre terraced garden of the same name on a hill overlooking the lake, on the site of Pliny’s villa.) This lakescape inspired music by Verdi, Rossini, and Bellini. You’ll see why.

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