Recently, I was honored to be invited to join a group of ten other travel agents from around the nation by one of our suppliers to go on an intensive site inspection trip of northern Italy. We concentrated on the areas of Milan, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, and Florence.
Lake Como, (known as Lago di Como in Italian), is shaped like a Y, and is lined with lush gardens, luxury villas, and pretty villages hugging the shore with the Swiss Alps in the background! It is no wonder that George Clooney and Richard Branson chose to purchase properties there!
To reach Lake Como you must fly into Milan, which is also a treat to visit, especially during fashion week! Lake Como is a short one-hour drive from Milan if you choose to rent a car, or an even shorter train ride.
Our home for several days was the Villa D’Este, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, and rightfully so. With its Old World charm, it is located on the shores of the lake in the Cernobbio area. Villa D’Este was formerly a 16th century residence amid 25 acres of beautiful gardens. This would be among one of my favorite hotels in the world.
The city of Como at the western end of the lake is a shopper’s paradise, especially if you are in the market for silk scarves and ties. Como’s waterfront is lined with parks and perfect spots to cool off on a hot day, while watching boats float up and down the lake.
Perfectly located at the point of the lake is one of the most well-known towns of Bellagio, home to another one of my favorite hotels in the world, Villa Serbelloni. It is conveniently located next to a fabulous area with narrow, cobblestoned streets, lined with quaint buildings, shops, and eateries. On the drive to Bellagio we made a stop at the wonderful hotel, Casta Diva, which has an award-winning spa and gorgeous view of Lake Como. This property has recently been purchased by the Mandarin Oriental group, therefore will be closing for renovations for a bit.
From Bellagio, it is fastest to take the ferry across the lake to reach the area of Tremezzina, where the famous Grand Hotel Tremezzo is located. This outstanding property is everything I expected it to be. I particularly loved the beachside bar area and the fabulous spa. The chef treated us to an unbelievable dinner that included a dish of risotto laced with 100 karat gold! They even presented each of us with a certificate of 100 K gold consumption! Wow and wow!
The area of Verenna, a traditional fishing village, is also popular with tourists, with its gelato-colored houses surrounding a small harbor. The main attraction here is Villa Monastero, which was once a convent. The beautiful gardens are open to the public.
The Grand Hotel Imperial, in the area of Moltrasio, had a wonderful restaurant overlooking the lake. We “just missed” seeing George Clooney dining discreetly in the corner of this gorgeous lakeside restaurant!
Until next time….Lake Como….. ARRIVEDERCI!
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