Charming Hotel Metropole is oldest in Bellagio, Italy

Although it’s possible to drive all the way to Bellagio, Italy, it’s quicker, safer, and more lovely to take a ferry. At Mennagio on the western bank of Lake Como, we boarded the large ferry that transports cars as well as people and crowded in with all the other passengers for our first introduction to the magical city that inspired glitzy Las Vegas.

Hotel Metropole in Bellagio, Italy

Hotel Metropole in Bellagio, Italy

Even though we had a map and GPS, finding the hotel we had booked at home online wasn’t easy—until we did find it, and then the location was surprisingly perfect. From the balcony of our room, we breathed in fresh Alpine air and inhaled the magnificent views of glimmering water sheltered by surrounding mountains and hills. As the evening sun set, we watched ferry boats come and go from our lakeside balcony and toasted our romantic getaway with a glass of Chardonnay purchased minutes away in the historic shopping district.

Hotel Metropole, an elegant pink-toned building on the waterfront, dates to 1721. As usually happens, the town of Bellagio developed on the lake, and until 1900 most houses overlooked the harbor. Originally a house, it later became an inn and shelter for travelers coming to this remote area. A photograph from 1871 (electric lights were installed in 1888) shows a beautiful building with a covered porch overlooking Lake Como.

Lake Como

View of Lake Como from hotel balcony


The hotel changed hands many times but had an English owner during the mid-1990s who sparked its growth to an international clientele before selling the hotel to an Italian entrepreneur. Although the hotel has recently been renovated with a mix of traditional and modern designs that are well-suited to Americans’ tastes (it is non-smoking, has a breakfast buffet, and includes Wi-Fi), the original three-person elevator is still the only way to get to upper floors unless you take the stairs.

Original plaster ceilings and Liberty-style glass doors of the panoramic dining hall remain, and old floor tiles of local Pognana stone on the terrace overlooking the lake were kept in place. Other original features include decorative balustrades and floral gratings from the hotel’s early days. A page in Mark Twain’s book Innocents Abroad describes the hotel, which he called Genazzini.

Roof top garden of Hotel Metropole

Roof top garden of Hotel Metropole

At the roof-top garden guests can lounge, read, or sunbathe while enjoying incredible views of the shimmering lake. Outside, purchase an ice cream or coffee at the geleteria in front, or dine at Terrazca, the adjacent restaurant where hotel guests receive a discount on meals.

View from our balcony

View of Lake Como from our balcony


The hotel is located at Piazza Mazzini, Bellagio’s historic center filled with shops, galleries, and restaurants and a tourist office where you can book boat rides on the lake and other excursions. Its excellent location and an impressive combination of Mediterranean and Alpine scenery make Hotel Metropole one of the most charming places to stay in Bellagio.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Read more travel stories at Going on Adventures and Austin Adventure Travel