What's Cool In Road Cycling

Travel: Meet Il Perlo Panorama

On my last Italian holiday with Mrs. Pez, we stayed in a small hotel on Lago di Como, the hotel Il Perlo above Bellagio on the climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo church. The quiet surroundings and breath taking views were enough to warrant a return visit – but its location on the route for the Giro di Lombardia, and proximity to this year’s Worlds in Mendrisio make it a worthy stop for any PEZ Fan …

Our stay in 2004 was preceded by a few days in London and Milan – exciting cities but also crowded and tiring. Escaping the September heat of the cities, our first night in Il Perlo was a refreshing change where we both slept like babies.

Here’s the view from your room…

Opening the window shutters revealed a stunning and panoramic view of all three arms of the lake, plus miles of surrounding countryside. Beautiful indeed. Our stay precluded my now well documented love affair with the negroni, but I can tell you a glass of single malt tasted even better when sipped from the hotel’s terrace.

…And here’s the view from even higher.

But more importantly for PEZ-Fans is the hotel’s location – 4km above Bellagio right on the climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo – which is THE place to watch the key race action develop during the Giro di Lombardia.

The hotel Il Perlo Panorma has featured in many a story on PEZ since then, (see it here: Top Rides: The Climb to Madonna del Ghisallo) and I’ve confidently recommended it to enquiring PEZ fans any time someone wanted a good base with excellent riding in the area. It turns out that more than a few of you took my advice and booked a stay.

The legend Fausto Coppi solos past Il Perlo enroute to a win at Giro di Lombardia c.1950.

That word of mouth has come back as a blessing, and hotel owner Carlo Sancassano recently contacted me with info about some great deals they’re offering to guests who stay during the World Championships and Giro di Lombardia.

So if you’ve wanted to visit northern Italy and see either of these two great races (and who doesn’t) – you can rest assured that a stay here will only add to memories of an awesome vacation. I asked Carlo to tell us a bit more about the fabulous property…

The hotel appears in photos from at least 1939, and shows up regularly in archival shots of the Giro di Lombardia. Tell us about the history of the hotel.
Carlo: Hotel was built in 1921 by my Grandfather: he bought the land, cut the edge of the hill building up the original home. Since that time il Perlo was a little Hotel, kind of postal retreat on the way to Milano: it was a “latteria” a little bar with a kitchen and with 4 rooms for rent. Rooms were for the servants of the Aristocratic families coming to Bellagio for the summer holiday.

The property has always been a family property: the entire family was running hotels around France, Lake Como and the Dolomites during the 20th century until 1973 when mom and dad came back to il Perlo and started the renovation: first with a restaurant and a few rooms, then developing year by year the Bed and Breakfast solution: in 1999 we did close the restaurant and built some new Veranda Junior suites overlooking the lake there…

Right out your front door: If you think this looks nice, wait till you see the views from the hotel for yourself. And that road to the left? That’s the climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo.

“Il Perlo Panorama”- what’s the story behind the name?
Carlo: “Il Perlo” is the name of a little creek near the hotel and the hamlet was called il Perlo. Panorama is easy to understand: from the top of our little hill you can see Lake Como almost entirely.

Tell us a bit about yourself – how long have you been in the hotel business?
Carlo: The Hotel business is something inside my family history: since 1921 we are all running hotels and believe me, Bellagio is a perfect location to run an Hotel, dealing with the international market we are used to. Hosting and serving customers is our DNA, and the location we have here makes it even easier, then the idea of joining it with everyone makes the job an easier job.

We are running il Perlo with the idea of a home hosting more than a traditional hotel and we are present at the hotel most of the time, just to follow and take care of all our guests, and sometimes some of them are even becoming friends.

The current building looks much the same as it did in this photo from 1939.

Are you a cyclist yourself?
Carlo: I am not a real cyclist, I admit, but I grew up watching 8 or 9 races a year riding the Ghisallo and always thought cyclist were kind of heroes, or perfect body machines: during the race they could ride up this 14% steep hill in front of the hotel at 18kph and it was something stunning. I did ride the climb of the Ghisallo a couple of times, but not being a cyclist it was like a never ending nightmare…


As an Italian living in such a beautiful area of Italy, and looking at the lake every day – what do you think is most special about the area?
Carlo: Gardens and Villas on the central part of the lakes are surely the most important attraction of Lake Como. Then all the little villages on the lake, respecting old fashion architectures are really something to experience on the Lake. The charm of Bellagio and all lake Como is surely the ambience and the sense of intimacy that it releases. Of course the area is big and offers different kind of activities, sports or cultural and enogastronomic. Lake Como is famous for the glamour and of course shopping is not bad here and around….


On your website there is a video of the area, filmed from an airplane. The pictures are stunning – how did you get them?
Carlo: Thanks to Promobellagio, the local hotel association providing promotional and touristical service. They produced these videos 2 years ago with the aim of promote the beauty of Bellagio.

**SPECIAL OFFERS for the Worlds & Giro di Lombardia**
You have some special rates on offer for both the World Championships in nearby Mendrisio and the Giro di Lombardia which goes right past the front door.
Carlo: We thought it was a must setting up special offers for these 2 events: visiting the website you will see these special offers, getting an 8% discount on all reservations for a minimum 3 nights stay from September 20 to September 30 (Mendrisio) and from October 10 to October 20 (Giro di Lombardia). It is very easy to book: on website home page you will see special offers, choose all offers and you choose Mendrisio09 or Giro to go ahead and book directly on line.

If you need further details or extra services like transfers do not hesitate emailing us at [email protected] and we will do our best to help you. We even have contacts with some local ex professional riders that can guide you biking on the area and in the circuits (of course out of the races time)…


The city of Como resides nearby at the bottom of the lake’s west arm, and hosts the finish of the Giro di Lombardia.

The fastest way to the Worlds in Mendrisio is ferry from Bellagio – how long does the it take?
Carlo: Every 30 minutes a Car Ferry from Bellagio to Cadenabbia (5 minutes to cross the lake), then about 40 minutes by car through Porlezza and Lugano lake, down to Mendrisio. Mendrisio is actually behind a mountain we clearly see from the hotel.

Critics might say you are too far from the action for both races – Mendrisio & the Lombardia finish in Como – what do you say to them?
Carlo: Mendrisio is not far and surely the way to get there from Bellagio will be faster at that time then the way from Como: would you imagine all the people going there all from the same way? Then the closer you stay to Mendrisio, the higher will be the rates in hotels and lodging: here you can be very close but out of the confusion. Giro di Lombardia goes through here: in the last 3 years we had guests staying at the hotel to see the start of the Ghisallo and then moving down to Como to see the arrival and post race events: they seemed so happy to do that!


The cycling is great in the area. What other activities are there for your guests, perhaps for spouses who do not cycle?
Carlo: Very easy: if I was a spouse and my husband was cycling I would visit all shops in Bellagio and the area… Then of course the area offers several choices, cultural, for leisure and for wellness: there is a wonderful Spa at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, open to everybody that I’d rather suggest.

What would you tell someone who has never visited this part of Italy?
Carlo: To come and visit the area: without expecting adrenalin but expecting nice romantic spots to relax and think about the beauty of life. And the surrounding mountains provide plenty of hills to ride for cyclists… We are not a luxury hotel but a home hosting and trying to take care of our guests as they were friends…

And here’s an actual testimonial – sent in just after this story went live:
“Hey! We stayed at Il Perlo last year upon your recommendation and cannot thank you enough for sharing that with us. We rented a suite and most nights had fresh pasta + wine for dinner on the balcony, watching the sun set while our infant son slept inside. Also, we both agree that the gelato shop in Bellagio produces the best gelato we have found in Italy.”

Anyways, Thanks!

Mike Papageorge
https://www.fiftyfoureleven.com (Web Development)
https://www.centripedal.com (Life and Multisports)

Get more info and book your stay:
Send email to:[email protected]
• See the Il Perlo website
• Check room availability with Booking.com

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