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Called the Pearl of the Lake, Bellagio is a delightful village with narrow, winding streets and occasional live music in high season. Guests staying here need to take the ferry for transfers.
One of the most attractively-situated of the lake resorts, Bellagio is a pleasant little spot to explore or simply potter. Passenger ferries stop alongside a tree-lined waterfront. Across the road is a lovely arcade where cafes and restaurants afford shade and shelter from the elements. This is a good place to come for an aperitivo or after-dinner drink. Walking to the right as you disembark from the boat, you'll find more 'tourist' cafes - the types of place where you can sit in the afternoon on a lakeside terrace with a big fancy ice-cream and watch the boats passing by. A little further along in this direction you'll pass the car-ferry departure point, the historic Hotel Grand Bretagne which is currently abandoned and falling into disrepair, and then reach a pretty lakeside promenade. A few minutes further on, you come to one of the two gardens open to the public, Villa Melzi (see below for more information on the gardens).
From the central waterfront, stepped and cobbled lanes rise up the hill in a tight little network separating the lakeshore from the town's main street, Via Garibaldi. This is a pretty lane where you'll find more shops, cafes and also Bellagio's main town square, Piazza San Giacomo, or Piazza della Chiesa. The square is dominated by the town church, the Romanesque Basilica di San Giacomo, which is worth a visit for its frescoes and statues. Externally you can admire the attractive bell-tower and elegant apse. On the opposite side of the square is a medieval tower, once part of Bellagio's now-disappeared defences and now a tourist office where you can buy tickets and rendez-vous for the tours of Villa Serbelloni's gardens (highly recommended; see below). The fountain in the centre of the piazza is said to have been originally commissioned by a resident Englishman for his garden to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
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