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Italy's Romantic Bellagio-EUROPEAN GETAWAY

After lunch and a swim in the pool, you go for a walk in town and then return to the hotel, holding hands and laughing with each other as you run in the sudden light rainshower. You arrive slightly out of breath, holding each other beneath the hotel’s antique canopy, near the small fragrant orange trees at the main entrance...

You’re on your honeymoon in a charming hotel on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como, enjoying its tropical climate nestled, between the Alps and the enchanted village of Bellagio.

2000 Years of Splendor
On the border of Italy and Switzerland, the land surrounding Lake Como sits in the shadow of the snow covered Alps, and yet,
almost magically, it’s a warm tropical region, where palm, banana, and orange trees all thrive.

It’s been a noted vacation resort for literally thousands of years. "I own several villas on the shores of this lake, but two give me particular pleasure," wrote Pliny the Younger in the first century A.D. in ancient Rome, talking about his villas near the present day site of the five-star Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni.

Surrounding Lake Como: 1000-year-old churches. At the Grand Hotel Villa Serboloni: Poolside, and the elaborate gardens.

"One, high up on the rocks, looks out over the lake. The other stands on the lake shore ... Each has its attractions ... This one embraces a single bay with a gentle curve, that one stands on a prominent outcrop dividing two bays."

The poetic inspiration of Lake Como has worked its wonders on visitors since pre-Roman days, but it wasn’t until the 1700’s, when various lakeside properties were left to Duke Alessandro Serbelloni that these villas gained their present name.

Today, the hotel — which officially opened for guests in 1873 — is presided over by owner Gianfranco Bucher, whose father and grandfather owned and managed the property before him.

Intimate Moments
Your first night you have a light dinner, wonderfully homemade pasta in a fresh tomato basil sauce. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted, even in Manhattan. Maybe the flavors are enhanced by the surroundings. And who wouldn’t be entranced? Gaze out the windows overlooking the lake. The blinking lights from the homes on the opposite shore slowly hypnotize, the Alps sitting majestically behind them, covered by the night sky.

After dinner you enter the main sitting room and happen upon an instrumental trio. The violinist is a virtuoso. His fingers dance up and down the strings with a skill found only on the world’s great stages. But tonight he and his fellow musicians are playing for just you and perhaps 15 other couples, old and young, lovers all, sitting amid the antique furniture in this glamorous oversized room, its 25-foot ceiling rich with detailed Renaissance images.

They play Mozart, Broadway tunes and early Beatles hits, exhibiting a deep love for their music. That same passion infuses the hotel’s entire staff.

The peacefulness on your loved one’s face, the light touch of each others’ fingers, all speak of romance and a future warm and bright, as joyful as the music.

Soon you both depart, climbing the hotel’s glorious marble staircase hand in hand to reach your honeymoon suite.

An Italian Wedding
Invigorated by the mountain fresh air, you are drawn to the town once again. The warmth of the small family- owned stores envelopes you and your husband, and you find yourselves deep in conversation with various third and fourth generation shop owners, talking about fabric, leather and Italian hand-made craftsmanship.

One store, "Ad Hoc," offers fine silks and leather goods, and your husband purchases several contemporary leather bags, two for you, several more for friends and business partners.

Delighted to discover you are on your honeymoon, Michele Gilardoni, the shop owner—it’s a family business and he’s now taking over from his parents — tells you he and his girlfriend Paola (she works there, too) are going to a wedding that Saturday.

"Come and join us at the wedding," they say. "Bring along your honeymoon glow. The bride and groom will enjoy seeing such happily married newlyweds."

You decide to attend. Guests include Bellagio locals and international personalities, all celebrating the wedding of Angela Valli, who designs prints for such Italian fashion legends as Valentino, and Alberto Belgeri, a world champion in rowing ("canottaggio").

Michele introduces you, and the just-married couple happily pose in the charming little walkway outside the richly appointed reception room. "Don’t don’t forget to send us the pictures!" they say.

Artistically Rich Italian Lifestyle
You sit on the terrace, and the waiter approaches and takes your order. You both gaze out over the palm tress, your eyes drifting north across the lake, caught by the snow-capped Alps rising majestically toward the sky, even as your skin is warmed by the tropic-like sun of this unique ecological region.

You walk hand in hand to the town and reach the bar Pesticceria San Remo and its outdoor cafe. There are maybe two dozen small tables, each covered with what resembles a rich tapestry, a floral design in muted lavenders, while the sun sets slowly behind the tall mountain range.

The waiters serve prosciutto and melon, light salads, formaggio and fruits to the couples and families surrounding you. You’ve already eaten, so you stick with your iced teas.

Again, just as you have done in the hotel, you marvel at the Italian lifestyle, with its attention to the finest detail of beauty and graciousness.

You also notice there are many more men than women with their children in the streets, playing, eating in the outdoor cafes, proudly wheeling their baby strollers, while the mothers are presumably shopping or at home. Though it’s a scene you seldom see in the States, it’s often repeated here in this family-oriented town.

Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni
22021 Bellagio, Lago di Como, Italy
tel: 39.031.95.02.16, fax: 39.031.95.15.29
e-mail: inforequest@villaserbelloni.it
www.villaserbelloni.it
Hotel du Lac
32-22021 Bellagio - Como
tel: 39.031.95.03.20, fax; 39.031.95.16.24
e-mail: dulac@tin.it
www.fromitaly.net/bellagio/H3/DULAC
Italian Government Travel Office
630 Fifth Avenue, 212.245.4822