Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Hotel Metropole, oldest in Bellagio, Italy, still charms visitors

Although it’s possible to drive all the way to Bellagio, a village on a promontory jutting into Lake Como in Italy, it’s quicker, safer, and more lovely to take a ferry. At the town of 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.

View of Lake Como from our room at Hotel Metropole

Even though we had a map and GPS, finding the hotel we had booked 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 just minutes before in the nearby historic shopping district.

Hotel Metropole has aged beautifully.

Hotel Metropole, an elegant pink-toned monolithic building on the waterfront, dates to 1721, making it the oldest in Bellagio. As usually happens, the town of Bellagio developed on the lake, and until 1900 most houses overlooked the harbor. Originally a house, the hotel later became an inn and shelter for travelers coming to what was a remote area. A photograph from 1871 (electric lights were not installed until 1888) shows a beautiful building with a covered porch overlooking Lake Como.

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 been renovated several times, during our visit a few years ago, we saw 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), At that time the original three-person elevator was still the only way to get to upper floors unless you take the stairs.

Gardens in the village

Original plaster ceilings and Liberty-style glass doors of the panoramic dining hall remained, and old floor tiles of local Pognana stone on the terrace overlooking the lake were kept in place. We also enjoyed other original features include decorative balustrades and floral gratings from the hotel’s early days. Hotel Metropole recently underwent additional restoration. All rooms are individually air conditioned, have private facilities, television, minibar, safe, and hairdryer.

Situated in the center of Bellagio, it is the only hotel in the village with a direct view onto Lake Como, and that includes all rooms. At the roof-top garden guests lounge, read, or sunbathe while enjoying incredible views of the shimmering lake.

View from roof top garden

Outside, purchase an ice cream or coffee at the gelateria in front, or dine at award-winning Terrazca, the adjacent restaurant where hotel guests receive a discount on meals in addition to enjoying a panorama of lake, rolling, hills, mountains, and sky.

Very Italian walkway to shops and restaurants

The hotel is located at Piazza Mazzini, Bellagio’s historic center.  From the square you’ll see characteristic Italian steps and narrow winding streets that lead to 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

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