Clear blue water, majestic scenery, and a gentle breeze – Bellagio on Lake Como in Italy was full of narrow roads, lush greenery, and gluten-free pasta.
Special thanks to Enjoy Life Foods for sponsoring this post. Opinions are my own.
Lake Como is in Northern Italy, near the boarder of Switzerland. I didn’t realize just how large the lake was, until we took a bus on a mostly one-way road around the lake up to Bellagio, where we stayed. It took an hour due to dodging oncoming traffic, and planned stops, and we only had to travel less than a quarter of the way around the lake.
We arrived into the Como train station and opted for the bus. It was less expensive than taking a boat up to Bellagio, and it provided the same scenery. When arriving in Bellagio, we walked to our Air B&B. You can stay in a hotel, and there are lots of lovely hotel options, but we wanted someplace with a kitchen.
Bellagio is on Lake Como. There aren’t any places to swim directly in front of Bellagio, but there are a few tiny places to slip into the water on the north and south sides of Bellagio.
WHERE WE STAYED
I recommend booking at least six months in advance so that you have more options. With a family of four, our options are limited. Most hotel rooms work for one to three people, and very few have rooms for four people. If a hotel does have a family room – they usually only have one. After a ton of searching, we found an Air B & B that looked promising. It was located just outside of Bellagio in a little town that I can’t remember the name of. I honestly thought it was in Bellagio, and it was only a 10 minute walk down to them main part of Bellagio. All the little towns are connected, so you feel like you are in one big town.
WHAT WE ATE
We stayed three nights in Bellagio. The first night we made pizza in our apartment using Enjoy Life Foods Pizza Mix. The mix is super easy to travel with and only requires water and oil to make.
We stopped by a local grocery store and picked up foil pans to cook our pizza in, some fresh produce, and meats and cheeses. There are a couple of little stores in Bellagio, and two larger ones outside of Bellagio (but still close by). While we were at the store we also found some gluten-free treats. Even in a small town on a lake, we found several gluten-free options.
In Bellagio, close to the waterfront, we found a restaurant with several gluten-free options called “Far Out”. They had free WiFi, air conditioning, and a variety of gluten-free options to choose from. As soon as we sat down the waiter asked if we had anyone that was gluten-free. My kids opted for the gluten-free pasta, while I had fish and veggies (I wanted a break from pasta).
One of the many things I loved about Far out was that they didn’t charge a cover charge. If you haven’t been to Italy yet, most restaurants charge a cover charge. It’s suppose to replace tipping, but sometimes people still tip. If we ate at a restaurant that had a big cover charge we didn’t tip. Cover charges range from 2 Euro to 10 Euro per person. Sometimes it includes bread (that we can’t eat), but not always. Far Out brought bread for my husband and gluten-free crackers for my girls and I.
Most the pasta dishes on the menu could be made gluten-free, and they take precautions to prevent cross contamination. We loved it so much we went back twice.
We also found a restaurant called La Fontana. They offered gluten-free pasta and pizza. Everything was good and we didn’t get sick. We carried a Nima Sensor with us (it’s a gluten sensor) and tested our food. Please remember to always ask question about how the food is prepared and made the best decision for yourself.
WHERE WE EXPLORED
We walked down to Bellagio and explored all of the little streets, shops, and a church. We spent time playing in the water near our apartment and preparing some of our own food. There are fishing and boating expeditions available for those that are interested in more lake activities. You can also take the water ferry or a speed boat across to the other town, or out to the island. Bellagio was our halfway point on our gluten-free family vacation and we took it easy and relaxed most of the time.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO COMO
While doing research in advance will help you find places to eat, there are a few other things that you should know before traveling to Lake Como:
- Bus is the most reliable mode of transportation around the lake, and the least expensive. Check bus schedules as the times vary by day and on holidays. Always arrive at the bus stop 15 minutes early. The buses only come about every hour or so, and can often be early. If you miss your bus, you have to wait an hour for the next one. This can be a big problem if you are trying to catch a train in Como.
- Most of the towns on the lake don’t wake up until after 9:00AM and the shops and grocery stores close by 6 or 7:00PM. If you’re an early riser, enjoy a quiet walk around town, or some coffee on your patio.
- 24 hour drink stations. There is a small section near the water in Bellagio, at the end of the shops, with vending machines. They take cash and credit card and have everything from water and sodas to wine. Soda is expensive at restaurants. Purchase soft drinks at the grocery store, or in one of the 24 hour drink stations.
- Some of the towns around the lake are on a steep hill. Be prepared to burn off some serious calories walking around.
- Check with your credit card and bank on rates before you leave. Most of the time, you may pay less withdrawing money at the ATM. This is true for almost anywhere you travel overseas.
- Most restaurants charge a service fee or cover charge. The fee is per person and varies from restaurant to restaurant.
- Most restaurants won’t serve tap water, even though it’s safe to drink. They serve bottled water “with gas” or “natural” and charge ridiculous prices. In some cases, it’s cheaper to drink a glass of wine.
- Unlike most cities in Italy, we didn’t see any water fountains and had to purchase water or fill up at our apartment.
- If your staying in an apartment, bring food with you, or stop by a pharmacy or grocery store to pick up gluten-free packaged goods.
I hope you will visit Bellagio or one of the other cities around Lake Como. The older buildings, narrow streets with shops, and gelato is worth the bus ride from Como!