Lake Como Like a Clooneyby Amanda Blakley
On a recent bucket list-worthy trip to Lake Como, my husband and I lived like the Clooneys with a five day stay in the majestic lake region. As it turns out, living our best lake life required not much more than the right reservations and a dash of A-list attitude.
TOUCH DOWN & CHECK-IN
The Lake Como region is only an hour’s drive from Milan Malpensa Aeropuerto, an easily accessible fly-in/fly-out international hub. After landing and making our way through customs (the Italians are a lot of things, but swift is not one of them), we indulged in an airport espresso and a Parma panino (one of the many ways in which the Italians excel, even at the airport!). We retrieved our rental car and hit the open road, which is seemingly devoid of any sort of speed limit. After about 45 minutes the highway gave way to smaller scenic roads which wound through cute towns and coastal tunnels revealing breathtaking views on the other side. We glimpsed the glistening lake and immediately let go of the usual stress associated with flying overseas. Our boys were safe and happy back home in Toronto and we had five full days to explore one of the most infamous regions of Northern Italy.
On a lake full of five-star flash worthy of the Clooneys, we checked in at Grand Hotel Tremezzo, since we were feeling fancy and in the mood for some good old-fashioned Italian luxury. Upon arrival, the Art Nouveau architecture swept us away to the glory days of the Belle Époque. This elegant old dame delivered on all counts, and then some. Our quarters were seeped in history with luxurious appointments like the marble bathroom and the softest silk furnishings. We loved the Aqua Como bath products and views that make you want to sell everything and retire by an Italian lake. We fought off our fatigue and the call of our bed’s lavish linens in favor of some pool time—retiring to the palace gardens and prostrating ourselves by one of the three onsite pools instead. We soaked up the perfect summer tempo (aka weather) and in a haze of jet lag and vacation bliss, still wearing bathing suits and robes, we wandered down to the private beach and adjacent champagne bar. There, for the famous ora aperitivo and a showy sunset accompanied by Aperol spritzes, we felt like Clooneys already.
Sleep came easily that night thanks to the aforementioned jet lag and the Italian wine and wood oven-fired pizza had at the on-site garden restaurant, T Pizza.
An indulgent breakfast was served daily on the exquisite Terrazza Gualtiero Marchesi. It was hard to resist the innumerable delicacies on offer, but fortunately, a pro-active early morning run along the lake allowed me to oblige a caloric overload. After a mid-morning spent at the spa pool to recharge and shake any remaining time zone fatigue, it was already ora di pranzo (lunch).
A visit by boat to Locanda delI’lsola Comacina is a rite of passage for any first-time visitor to the lake (or so we were told) and after a pleasant al fresco lunch, we were indoctrinated with a post-meal coffee ceremony that is said to exorcise a curse placed on the island long ago. Admittedly more kitsch than Clooney, it was nevertheless a fun way to pass an afternoon.
But if you’re channeling Amal and George, a table at Il Sereno’s Berton Al Lago is a must for all its Michelin-starred splendor and architectural design. The seven courses were a bit too ambitious for us in retrospect (perhaps opt for the more modest four courses) but when in Italy!
A dressy dinner at L’Escale Trattoria & Wine Bar is the perfect place to celebrate something or someone. In our case, it was part of the pre-birthday festivities for an Australian friend celebrating a milestone. We let the waiter do the ordering for us, and the whole table was wowed by dish after dish paired with a parade of robust vinos.
There is no better way to make like a Clooney than a lakeside table at Villa D’Este’s Bar Canova (arrive by boat, obviously!). The romance of the tinkling glasses, live music and beautiful people swanning past to dinner is straight out of a Fellini film.
Famous for their cocktails made by expert mixologists, T BAR at Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s terrace is a royal way to pass the early or late portion of any summer evening. Enjoy the glittering lake accompanied by the piano forte and a signature Claridge GHT.
While Lake Como has no shortage of charming villages, a coffee and a stroll through Bellagio is a debonair way to spend a morning or afternoon. Full of swish boutiques and lovely café, it’s elevated lake life at its finest. And while it may not draw the likes of George and Amal, my most memorable day in Lake Como was spent in the humble village of Nesso, on a farm by the lake, surrounded by friends, celebrating life and love with pizza and Prosecco.
This trip, filled with so much incredible food, friendship, fancy restaurants, elegant hotels and laughter will remain a beloved memory for my husband and I for years to come.