My number one rule for travel: Avoid car trips at all cost. If that wasn’t clear, let me repeat. I hate car trips. Especially long, tedious ones that wind along narrow roads. I also get car sick so, as you can imagine, the combination of me, the car sick child and a long car trip down tiny twisting roads is not a match made in heaven.
But I think I’ll have to make an exception to my rule.
It was the summer of 2011 and after some last minute plans, I was in Italy, driving down the aforementioned tiny roads. My dad was doing the driving, maneuvering us along. Every time I looked out the window, I felt sick. I didn’t even know where we were going—my mom probably told me before, but I didn’t listen. So all I knew was that we were in the middle of Italy.
After what seemed like ages, the car finally stopped. I opened my eyes. One, my dad was trying to open the car door (not an easy feat—parking spaces in Italy are tiny!). Two, I’m pretty sure we landed in the most beautiful place on earth. Let me introduce it.
Drum rolls please.
I was in the parking lot of Hotel Silvio, a charming family owned hotel. From the perch that the hotel sat on, I could see a magnificent view of the lake. All my feelings of throwing up went out the window. The clean, fresh air cured me instantly.
A shawl of mist covered the lake, making it seem mysterious. Boats floated around the lake, elegantly swimming across.
It was paradise.
Hotel Silvio was also paradise. Our room was on the third floor and had a gorgeous view of the lake. The room also had a vaulted ceiling and a boathouse feel. It was clean, almost starch white and incredibly comfortable.
For dinner, we ate at the hotel’s own restaurant. The beautiful balcony restaurant was delicious—I had a rice and fish fillet. My mouth watered at the first taste—juicy, tender fish. Yum.
In the US, meals are often rushed. But not here. I took my sweet time savoring every bite. La Dolce Vita.
The next day, my family and I took a walk down into town. We passed a boathouse that I had to take a picture of. It looked so perfect, like something you’d see in a movie or painting.
Pass the boat house, we made our way to Villa Melzi, a beautiful lakeside mansion once owned by the Duke of Lodi in the 19th century.
The gardens (but not the house) are open to the public for a fee. The price though, is well worth it. Though it was a bit crowded, the views of the lake and all the cool little places in the gardens made up for it. There were lily pad gardens, pavilions, a little church and hidden pathways.
After exploring the gardens, my family and I went into town. Though it’s small, the city oozes charm. It’s quintessential Italy. Gelaterias, cafes and adorable little gift shops.
We left after grabbing pizza at a little café.
Looking back, I can only think fondly. I spent less than 24 hours there, but the memories will last forever. Bellagio might not have the worldly attractions of Paris or London (two places I’ve been), but it has its own appeal.
Bellagio is the image of La Dolce Vita. It is simple, relaxed and peaceful.
And so, like I said. Bellagio is my exception to the car rule. The only exception.
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