5 medieval buildings to visit in Bellagio

June, 21 2017 ( Updated August, 26 2021)


The charm of the Italian town of Bellagio is not just because of its unique location on Lake Como but also because of its rich history of human settlement, which predates the Roman period. The town houses a number of villas, churches and other buildings which tell the tale of the medieval times.
If you are planning to visit these medieval buildings, we have here a list of buildings that you must visit.

View of Lake Como from Bellagio


Villa Melzi D'Eril

This villa was built in 1808 by Duke Francesco Melzi d'Eril who was the assistant and a friend of General Napoleon and is one of the perfect examples of neoclassical architecture during the 19th century. It is called the Villa Gallarati Scotti today as it is owned by Count Gallarati Scotti. The villa has a garden which houses a variety of flora from across the world. The gardens can be visited between March and October from 9:30 to 18:30. Unfortunately, the villa itself isn’t open for tours, so you will have to settle for admiring its beauty from the outside.

Villa Melzi


Torre Delle Arti Bellagio

This medieval tower was built in the 11th century and used to be an integral part of the town’s defence. It is now an art museum which hosts art exhibitions by local and international artists. It is quite interesting to see how old monuments are being used to promote works of art in a country which is known for its artistic creativity.  


Villa Serbelloni

This villa was once owned by the Duke of Bellagio but was later bought over by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1959. This villa can only be visited as part of a guided tour and is a centre for important meetings and conferences. The tours take place twice a day once at 11:00 and once at 15:00 from the Promo Bellagio office at the Piazza Della Chiesa. The villa houses a garden which has some rare floral species. There is a grotto near the top of the promontory which used to be a cold storage during the medieval times. Towards the north of the villa, grounds are the remains of an Ostrogothic fortress. While you admire the rich history of the villa, do remember to snap a picture of the lake, as the upper part of the villa gives you a stunning view.


Basilica of San Giacomo

The Basilica of San Giacomo was built by some of the master builders of Como during the 12th century and has undergone reconstruction a number of times. Be prepared to be welcomed by the basilica’s dark interiors, a beautiful altar, frescoes, sculptures and several side chapels which would immediately transport you to medieval Rome. You can find paintings like the "Deposition of Christ" by the Perugino school, an archaic cross (12th century) and more.

Basilica di San Giacomo


Madonna del Ghisallo

This hill is named after a Marian apparition and houses a medieval shrine on the top of the hill. The best way to reach this shrine is on a bicycle as the path is very picturesque. This path has also been made a part of the Giro di Lombardia bicycle race. Inside the shrine is an eternal flame that pays tribute to all the cyclists that have passed away. It also has a small cycling museum with photos and artefacts from the sport.


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