Bellagio, Lombardy, Italy.
Located on Lake Como, the teeny-tiny Italian town of Bellagio is settled at the tip where the famous lake is cut into two. Here, backed by the dramatic Rhaetian Alps and sprawling hilly hinterlands, its villas with rust-coloured roofs and forest-green shutters curve around steep cobblestone staircases. With a full-time population of just 4,000 residents, this sleepy neighbourhood is the sort of place where everyone knows everyone.
A day in picture-pretty Bellagio can begin gently with an early morning stroll through narrow passageways, where you'll find locals carrying baskets of freshly-baked goods and owners of independent boutiques opening up for the day. Before the crowds arrive, visit the 12th-century church of Chiesa San Giacomo to find mosaic work dating from 1900.
You don't need us to tell you that Bellagio is best explored from the water, so after you've enjoyed hours of sun-soaked cruising, skip to Lido di Bellagio. A beach club restaurant located on the waterfront, it's also known as the coolest spot in town to sing and dance from dusk till dawn. For a slice of culture, swing by the Melzi Gardens, where the villa - once the summer residence of the Republic of Italy's vice president, Francesco Melzi d'Eril - is now a museum and the gardens are home to exotic plants, walking trails and plenty of shaded picnic areas.
Where to stay?
For an intimate retreat, make Villa Mojana your base. Sitting pretty in a garden of olive groves and overgrown palm trees, the six-key stay oozes Italian chic. Picture four-poster beds, private balconies offering undisrupted views across the mesmerising lake, and abstract artworks. We're starting our day with seasonal fruits on the terrace before slipping into our cossie for a paddle in the infinity pool.
Where to go for dinner?
When it comes to al fresco dining, visitors to Bellagio are a little spoiled for choice. There's the family-run Antico Pozza in the centre of town, where a pizza menu so extensive demands you to order at least three, and Trattoria Baita Belvedere by the lake's edge, where seafood platters are so fresh you literally watch the fisherman sail in. Also in town, you'll find La Fontana Restaurant whose pasta dishes are some of the finest in Italy - and that comes straight from the mouths of fervent foodies. Wherever you choose to bag a table, your tastebuds are in for a treat.
And for a drink…
Aperitivo Et Al. Tucked halfway down a cobbled street, you'll no doubt hear distant sounds of glasses clinking and whispers of Italian gossip before spotting the bar's peach-coloured facade. Inside a striped-back decor makes for a gritty yet glam drinking den - picture bare-brick walls, black-matte tables and low arches. Wine, of course, is the focus here and, with 500 different labels and an impressive nibbles menu to try, it's difficult not to make a daily visit here come 8pm.
Who to take with you
That friend, who's been eyeing up a trip to Lake Como for as long as you've known them, will appreciate seeing its good looks in person.
When to go
October. As the rest of the UK starts digging out their winter woollies, escape to Bellagio and squeeze in one last hit of late summer sunshine.
Essentials to pack
We've all been bothered by a sunscreen that leaves us covered in a white, greasy film. Say hello to faff-free UV protection with Supergoop!, the sunscreen brand that promises a water and sweat-resistant consistency. We're packing a tube of the Unseen Sunscreen SPF30, partly for its glowy finish but largely for its stellar, makeup priming performance.
How to get there
There's no airport in Bellagio. Take a direct flight from London Gatwick to Milan's Malpensa Airport, from where Bellagio is a 90-minute drive or a three-hour train trip away.