The position of Bellagio, both enchanting and strategic, was already famous in the Roman era and has written its history. Holidays in Bellagio date back to ancient history.
The first person to leave a record of his stays in this spot was one of the most famous Latin writer, named Pliny the Younger, in the first century A.D. He owned two villas on the lake where he combined study and writing with hunting and fishing.
Over the centuries, the strategic position at the centre of the lake made Bellagio important enough to be the object of contention many times.
Bellagio’s more recent history, from Napoleonic times to the present day, is tied to its enchanting position and to the growing importance of tourism since the middle of the 18th century. A large number of splendid villas with fabulous parks sprang up on the promontory and the Lombard aristocracy would spend long periods here surrounded by illustrious guests, including many artists and poets.
During the 19th century, Bellagio became a court of considerable importance despite the fact that it was very difficult to reach the town in any way other than by crossing the lake.
Towards the end of the century, the first luxury hotels were opened, offering the same levels of elegance and comfort as the finest hotels in Europe.
The Bellagio Hotel was the first hotel to be opened in 1825. Following this example several splendid hotels sprang up in a short time, many of which are still open today - and several of which are still run by the founding families. In 1888, the three major hotels introduced electric lighting to the town as a substitute for gas. The finest family villas of the area followed only much later.
During the Belle Époque Bellagio offered three working theatres, at a time when Milan could only boast two. Almost all of the most illustrious names of the last two centuries have signed the guest books of Bellagio, and recently, many famous cinema stars have fallen under the spell of Bellagio.
Bellagio was one of the first Italian tourist spots to become truly international, but it has never degenerated into a “tourist machine”. Like a true lady, Bellagio is simple, refined, and friendly.
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