The best way to see the Italian lakes are to take your own villa for a month (every year) and write a book while you’re at it. But for those who don’t have quite so much holiday to spare or the creative dedication, we suggest you re-visit your teenage years and prepare to hop about. Each lake has its own celebrity following, authors, poets and indeed offering. Our favourite one to start with is Como – known for its dramatic scenery and deep blue waters, with more luxury hotels and luxury gardens than you can shake a oar at, or a bottle of Franciacorta for that matter.
WHERE TO STAY
If understated and laid back are two keywords in your briefing to your travel agent, this is not the hotel for you. This palatial pad is the ultimate base. Beautiful gardens in a 25 acre park and a spectacular swimming pool to do lengths after a Negroni. Grand and opulent in every sense of the word, this is frequently declared the best hotel in the world but then why not?
A boutique lakeside hideaway with an infinity pool that knocks the spots off most other views. This has long weekend written all over it. Incredible location, food to make you swoon and large spacious rooms to sleep off over indulgence in. You can eat on the terrace overlooking the lake which is wonderful – or go to one of the many delicious restaurants nearby.
Surrounded by coconut trees and set alongside an 800-metre sweep of the Amanwella Beach, this hip hotel is more indulgent than a Champagne Bath. Located near the seaside town of Tangalle with space, views and indulgence in huge gelato sized dollops. The beach and villages nearby offer plenty of reasons to drag yourself off the sun bed and set out to explore. They have a complimentary babysitting service too (YAY). Endless plunge pools and banquettes mean you will always have somewhere to snooze – and we highly recommend Suites 110 and 112 which enjoy their own privacy and are right by the beach.
WHERE TO EAT
You have to pray your little socks off that its truffle season as it will make the waiting list worth the wait. They head to the hills in the morning and return with their spoils. Have it in the simple Italian style shaved over scrambled egg or with an omelette. And as for cocktails…
Head to Comacina (an island in the middle of Lake Como) which previously was only inhabited by snakes. The snakes are no more but lunch at Locanda dell’isola very much is. A 6 course extravaganza (that you have no say in) which just keeps on coming. As a finale, the famous “exorcism of fire” takes place – at the sound of the bell, the owner burns brandy in a cauldron and tells the history of the island while adding Coffee and Sugar and serving it to all the guests. A good way to banish evil demons…until the hangover kicks in.
WHAT TO DO
Thank goodness Villa Balbienella is open to the public because it has the most beautiful terraced gardens. Italian mountain climber and explorer Guido Monzino who lived there was quite a fruity character and Casino Royale was filmed here as a very fitting place for James Bond to recover. It is located on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore of the south-west branch of Lake Como.
Clooney swooning | Because we all LOVE him
Speed by George Clooney’s villa Oleander by boat – but don’t fall in, so many already have in the hope George would come and rescue them that they’ve now made it an offence. Blow him a kiss and show him what’s he’s missing instead.
Bellagio Tripping | Perfect for Lunch
Take a boat to Belaggio (this isn’t Vegas Dears) – wander through the narrow winding streets and look for linen as they do a very good line. Be sure to stop for a drink on one of the restaurant terraces as Bellagio nestles where the lake divides so you are bound for a good view.
Pack your Manolos as this place is all about the show. But not on the boat darling, you will be anything but shipshape.
Don’t bother with a car – travel by boat.
Try some local truffle pasta, its the real deal.
Quit your job and go for a month
Contributors: Mrs Auree and Millie T with some excellent tips from a jaunt last Summer.
Image credits: Travelpluss.com; made-in-italy.com; destinationsperfected.com; italytraveller.com; XOprivate.com; milanostyle.com