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There are many wannabe Bellagios around the world (including a luxury Las Vegas hotel-casino), but only one true Bellagio. Once you're here, it's impossible not to be smitten by the waterfront of bobbing boats, the maze of steep stone staircases, red-roofed and green-shuttered buildings, and the dark cypress groves and rhododendron-filled gardens. Like the prow of a beautiful vessel, Bellagio sits at the crux of the inverted Y that is Lake Como; the Como and Lecco arms of the lake wash off to port and starboard. Wander out of the old town centre to Punta Spartivento and gaze north up the third arm towards the Alps. In Roman times, Pliny had one of his favourite villas here.

Bellagio is hardly a secret. On summer weekends, foreign tourists fight for elbow room with hordes of day trippers up from Milan. Try to come midweek if you want a modicum of peace.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Bellagio.