We took the train from Zurich and rented a Hertz car in Como and drove to Bellagio. If you decide to drive in Italy, make sure you have a good GPS with a recent European map. I use a Garmin and it worked very well. I wouldn't try to drive anywhere in Italy without one. If that's not strong enough, then try, "absolutely not!." If you rent a car, even if you're Platinum like we are, do NOT let them upgrade you to a larger car. You need the smallest car that you can get your luggage into. We had a Fiat 500 and it was almost too large to get through some places on the road when we met oncoming traffic. Several times, I thought I was going to lose at least one of the mirrors! And with all the twists and turns in Bellagio and one-way streets that are illegal to drive on at certain times, you need all the help you can get from your GPS. Fortunately the GPS paints a line that you can follow regardless of what the street signs say (or lack thereof). Just getting around to the lake level in front of the stairs to the hotel had me second guessing several times whether I was going the right way. But you can't go backwards as there's no place to turn around in most places so I kept going and got there. However the parking along the lake says you are not to park there, so one of us guarded the car prepared to leave if the police showed up while the other went up the stairs scouting to see if we could find the hotel. Hint. If you park in front of the Hotel Florence, you're close to the stairs up the hillside to the hotel.
The only free parking I could find (and what was recommended by the hotel clerk) is several blocks away and is along the side of the twisting road that goes through the gate and then along side the park as you enter Bellagio from Como. Park on the left side of the road, but do not drive into the ditch that was covered in leaves in November when we were there. It really wasn't a bad walk, but make sure you've unloaded your luggage at the hotel before you take the car there to park! The stairs are rough stone and at least 50 steps up the side of the mountain, but we went slowly so you didn't tear the wheels off our luggage and we were OK. But we also walk about 3 miles a day everyday, so it wasn't hard for us.
The Hotel Centrale had good reviews and was also open in November. We had been referred to the Hotel Florence down by the lake, but they require you call them to reserve a room and we couldn't get through. When we got there, we found out why as the Hotel Florence closes for the winter. But we were glad we stayed at Hotel Centrale. It is a small hotel. Our hotel was on the third floor with a skylight and a view of the lake from our windows which we left open all the time as the Alpine November air was nice and chilly and made for great sleeping. There was no refrigerator in the room but my wife set her Diet Cokes out on the small ledge outside the window and kept them cold. There is an elevator to get your luggage up and down, but we only used it for that. There was a public computer on the second floor with free internet that we used several times to check up on mail. Please note that the keyboard is an Italian keyboard so do not just start typing or you'll end up with gibberish. The keys are not the same as the American keyboard.
The breakfast was excellent. Every morning they had fresh pastry delivered from a bakery and a very good selection of different types of foods. The room was clean and we had no problems at the hotel. While we speak Italian, the desk clerk spoke English. So you shouldn't have any trouble. Just up the stairway is an excellent bar on the right that provides a plate of food when you buy wine (or maybe beer, but we only ordered wine) that was enough food to be a meal. At the top of the stairs on the street nearby is an excellent gelateria, one of the many that we sampled in our quest for the best gelato in Italy. This one has all home made gelato and was excellent. By the way, there are some gelaterie in Italy that use artificial flavorings and colors and you can tell those by the brighter colors. The authentic gelatos tend to be more pastel colors. But if you're not a gelato snob (some people are wine snobs, but we're gelato snobs!!!)on a quest to find the best gelato in Italy, you will still enjoy your gelato!. There are also several good restaurants nearby, some of which cater more to tourists. There is one near the hotel that is off on a side street (very narrow more like a sidewalk) that is not advertised well, but the hotel clerk can tell you where it is and it was very good, but seemed to only be serving local Italians - which is what we wanted.
Bottom line is that the Hotel Centrale was a little lower price that many of the other hotels, but met all of our needs and we were glad we stayed there. We would definitely stay again.
By the way, it's a very short walk to the pier to take the ferry to Varenna across the lake to the East, or to other spots on the lake. The ferry is a car ferry, but we didn't take the car to Varenna. There is very little parking space in Varenna and it was easy to walk completely over the entire little town which we probably couldn't have done if we had taken the car as we would have been worried about getting a ticket from wherever we had parked. Make sure you have your camera out as you approach Varenna as it is one of the most photogenic spots I've ever seen and pictures from the lake have to be some of the best in the world.
Bellagio really is one of the most beautiful places in the world, so just being there was wonderful!
I laughed when I saw the question below about whether they have a swimming pool or fitness center. There is no room for a swimming pool and everywhere you go in Bellagio, you're working out, just walking up and down the hills and stairs!
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- Also Known As:
- Centrale Hotel Bellagio
- Hotel Centrale Bellagio, Italy - Lake Como