lake como italy travel guide
When you’re visiting Lake Como, about an hour’s drive from Milan, George will inevitably come up in conversation.
“Do you want to see George Clooney’s house?” our driver asks us while on the way from the airport to the hotel.
He pulls over anyway and points to a grey villa on the water. The Instagrams start flying.
The next day, on a Ruy Limousine tour of the lake, our captain asks us if we want to cruise by Clooney’s villa before lunch and is shocked when we say we’d rather go straight to the grub. “You’re the first group of Americans who haven’t wanted to see it!”
Americans may only know Como via Clooney, but the lake has long been a summer playground for the European jet set. Set in the shadow of the Alps, spectacular Lago di Como is shaped like an upside-down Y, with the town of Bellagio at its intersection.
If you don’t know anyone with a villa, the next best thing is a stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, an Art Nouveau palace on the water that dates back to the early 1900s. Whether you’re having lunch on the terrace, diving into the hotel’s floating pool set in Lake Como, or relaxing on your balcony’s hot tub, you’re surrounded by stunning views of either the lake, the mountains, the sparkling lights of Bellagio or the property’s lush gardens.
While the masses (and tour buses) descend in summertime, autumn in Como is tranquil. The mist on the lake envelops villas and passing ferries and adds a moody atmosphere. And it’s still warm enough to take a boat to nearby villages and dock at the various alfresco restaurants dotting the curvy coastline.
On my last day, I finally saw George Clooney in a gift shop in Bellagio…in the form of a photograph taped to wall of other celebrities snapped in Como. Gorgeous George was in the center of it all.
LAKE COMO TRAVEL GUIDE
How to get there: Fly nonstop to Milan from most major airports. Lake Como is about 30 miles north of Milan.
Where to stay: The Grand Hotel Tremezzo may be a former palace, but it’s definitely not uptight. Enjoy an aperitivo on the lake-facing terrace, swim in one of the hotel’s three pools, learn how to make a Milan-style Negroni from the barman, or indulge in a spa treatment.
What to eat: Seafood from the lake—like perch or trout—gets big play on menus. Since Como is a mere 18 miles from Switzerland, the food is heartier there than in Southern Italy. Try the pasta dish pizzoccheri made with buckwheat pasta, cheese, cabbage and potato. Make a reservation at the recently-opened Locanda La Volpe, up in the mountains, for regional specialties in a cozy cabin setting.
What to buy: Silk is to Como as glass is to Venice. Stock up on ties, dresses, swimsuits, pillows, blankets at La Tessitura, the concept store for silk manufacturer Mantero, whose clients include Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
By Maridel Reyes (@maridelreyes)