Bellagio, Province of Como, Lombardy, Italy
In the Middle Ages Bellagio was first under the Lombards, then in the 10th century it was donated to the bishops of Como. Bellagio very soon started to fight for its autonomy, and was repeatedly attacked by Como: At that time the shipyards of Bellagio developed a kind of war boat suitable to the lake waters, called Schifo. In the late 13th century finally the area came under the control of the Visconti family of Milan, who established a kind of governor called Capitano del Lario, who was a kind of police authority on the lake. In the 15th century the fortress of Bellagio was a refuge for the celebrated condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni and later for Ludovico il Moro. In 1533 Francesco Sfondrati bought the fiefdom taking the title of Conte della Riviera and for 2 centuries his descendants contributed to the progress of economy, developing the silk and candle industries and promoting trade. In 1788 after the extinction of the Sfondrati family the fiefdom passed to Duke Alessandro Serbelloni.
Under the Napoleonic domination, Francesco Melzi, Duke of Lodi bought a magnificent villa along the western coast of Bellagio, which became a fashionable meeting place for the Lombard aristocracy, visited also by emperors as Ferdinand I in 1838, minister Metternich, Duke Ranieri of Monaco, who came to Bellagio on the Lario, the first steamship on the lake. Among the most famous guests of Bellagio were Italian writers Silvio Pellico and Ippolito Nievo, and musician Franz Liszt who spent here his honeymoon with M.me de Flavigny. Meanwhile, the ancient palaces were changed into refined hotels and residences for an elite tourism.