The poetic inspiration of Lake Como has worked its wonders on visitors since pre-Roman days, but it wasnt until the 1700s, 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.
Your first night you have a light dinner, wonderfully homemade pasta in a fresh tomato basil sauce. Its like nothing youve ever tasted, even in Manhattan. Maybe the flavors are enhanced by the surroundings. And who wouldnt 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 worlds 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 hotels entire staff.
The peacefulness on your loved ones 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 hotels 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 ownerit’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. Youve 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 its a scene you seldom see in the States, its often repeated here in this family-oriented town.