To come to Lake Como is often identified with visiting Bellagio.
Who has not dreamed of wandering this lovely town, quintessentially Italian, beautiful, charming, worthy of many a traveller’s mention and a Las Vegas Casino by the same name?
Poetically minded and bursting with excitement I got on the ferry from Varenna fully intent on spending a whole day wandering the streets of this Lake Como celebrity town.
Only, upon descending, I was taken aback by the sight that lay before me. Bellagio certainly deserves the first part of its name: it is, indeed una bella piccola citta!
However, it equally deserves its Las Vegas counterpart…. It is soooo touristic, so remarkably inauthentic it just hurts. All the restaurants in Bellagio have English signposts, English menus, waiters addressing you directly in English and English quality food!
I love coming to Italy to practise my little and diminishing Italian, leftover from 3 years’ unserious study while at university and a youth spent dreaming of going to Florence and discovering life like Helena Bonham Carter’s Lucy in “A Room with a View”…
When I come to Italy I want my waiters to be bemused at my turn of phrase, I want them to try and match me in broken English, with heavy helpings from a plethora of hand gestures. That is fun! Having a waitress address me with ‘hiya’ and continuing her enquiries in vaguely accented British English is unacceptable.
So I had my inauthentic pizza, drank my Swiss beer and ran to the port to catch the next ferry to a much more welcoming and so much more Italian Menaggio, across the lake.
But not before buying a bunch of hand sewn silk scarves, just so I have something truly Italian from this otherwise Disneyland-Italy town…