Greater than another Italian resort vacation spot, Lake Como defies an apparent itinerary. For instance, a visit to the Amalfi Coast presupposes Positano, Ravello and the city of Amalfi. An Italian Riviera vacation implies time spent in Cinque Terre and Portofino. However two individuals who have been to Lake Como at completely different instances would doubtless inform two utterly completely different tales.
One cause for that’s its peculiar geography; situated round 30 miles north of Milan, the upside-down, Y-shaped lake—a thin physique of water wherever you look—has no apparent middle. One more reason is that nobody city or village (and there are various) registers as an apparent base. That is why a traveler to Lake Como should be very self-aware about what they love to do and what makes them glad.
Lake Como, although timelessly lovely, will be confounding sufficient that even final fall, on my third journey to the realm, I used to be nonetheless figuring issues out. For instance, the city of Como, situated on the southwestern level of the upside-down Y, is often so little remarked upon, besides as a method station to factors north by ferry and hydrofoil, that I’d by no means spent any time there beforehand. So, I made a decision to divide this journey into two: I’d spend the primary half in and round Como, and the second half in smaller, quieter cities set close to the center of the “Y.”
For a spot that nobody talks about, Como was pretty. It’s not that its lakefront was particularly manicured; with the lake winding down for the season, there was some building occurring. However surprisingly, as I walked inland away from the water, Como’s simple charms revealed themselves. Como Cathedral’s spectacular dome lords over the town; the late-Gothic church boasts a powerful historical past, because it was constructed over three centuries. Although the façade, replete with columns, arches, a rose window and inset statuary, dates from the mid-Fifteenth century, the cathedral was not accomplished till 1770.
With my base at Vista Palazzo, a design-forward boutique lodge on a lakefront piazza, the pedestrian pleasures of Como have been simply accessible and redolent of Rome’s historic middle, or Bologna’s. It provides the delight of strolling aimlessly across the festive Piazza del Duomo, stuffed with tables set underneath market umbrellas, then discovering much more energetic piazzas, and between them, slender, tiled streets resulting in discreet, romantic trattoria set in buildings washed in rose and pale yellow.
From Vista Palazzo, I moved on to Lodge Villa Flori in Cernobbio, Vista Palazzo’s sister property, reachable in minutes by way of ferry. That slight sense of take away was key: Now I discovered myself in a backyard setting on the fringe of the lake, in superbly appointed conventional lodging that appeared to drift above the water. On this nook suite, I flung open the doorways to my huge L-shaped terrace and let the lakeside breeze cool the area from two sides. I arrived early sufficient to linger over breakfast—lengthy sufficient to be taught that on this a part of Italy, the crescent-shaped rolls (what we, and the French, establish as croissants) will not be known as cornetto, however brioche.
From the lodge, I walked round 10 minutes south (again within the course of Como), so I might discover Villa Olmo. As a result of Villa Flori is one other boutique lodge and not using a pool, I took the chance to swim with the locals at Villa Olmo’s lido for a couple of euros. I savor a majority of these experiences, dwelling because the locals do, swimming my laps (bathing caps required, a reminder that I used to be decidedly not in additional laid-back southern Italy); trying up from the water to admire the mountains on the alternative facet of the lake; grabbing a pizza on the bar; and choosing out a red-and-purple striped slingback lounge chair on the garden to chill out in. After my exercise, I wandered the grounds of the early Nineteenth-century Villa Olmo; the majestic neoclassical constructing is out there just for occasions and exhibitions, however the formal gardens, with their meticulous flowerbeds and bulbous topiary, are open to the general public.
If half one of many trip was about some (delicate) exploration, half two was about luxuriating. Lake Como is house to among the world’s best and amenity-rich resorts, lots of them situated close to the fork of the lake, which is probably the most famed part and arguably its most scenic. That is the place the picturesque cities of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio are situated, and it’s simple to hop from one to the opposite on the ferry for lunch or buying jaunts. However for me, the purpose of this a part of the journey was to place the facilities of chosen resorts to the take a look at—and never go anyplace.
To be pithy, Grand Lodge Tremezzo (picture at prime) was a surprise—a Belle Époque retreat that helped outline what luxurious was a century in the past, and nonetheless epitomizes it. Once you discuss Lake Como, after all, it’s inevitable that Villa d’Este comes up, as the enduring Cernobbio resort is all-but synonymous with the vacation spot. Grand Tremezzo just isn’t solely its equal, however surpasses it in a number of methods. For one factor, it’s much less formal, and the employees exudes higher heat. The great thing about Grand Tremezzo was unbridled—all over the place, out and in, have been celebrations of colour and unerring expressions of heightened design. The frequent areas featured one opulent sala after one other, my favourite the Sala Contessa, a luxurious sitting room adorned and positioned so cunningly that when the solar got here streaming by means of the French doorways, the room turned pink—even what was not already pink-hued on this pale rose and silver room turned pink.
If pool time was one thing that took some planning at first of the journey, such was not the case at Grand Tremezzo. In true Lake Como vogue, one of many two swimming swimming pools truly floated on the lake; the artwork deco-inspired deck, with its spectacular views, was dotted with unstructured daybeds the colour of orange sherbet. The pool was adjoining to Giacomo al Lago, the “beachside” restaurant with the peerless prawn tartare with mandarin sorbet, and an unforgettable seafood gnocchi.
My Lake Como sojourn ended at Grand Lodge Victoria, which was a stone’s throw from the middle of Menaggio, one of many space’s most magical villages, the place to buy artisanal cleaning soap or seize an equally artisanal gelato. I bought there—ultimately, but it surely was simply as tough to go away this property because it was to tear away from Grand Tremezzo—and it provided an illuminating distinction. Whereas Grand Tremezzo was a paean to turn-of-the-century splendor, Grand Victoria struck me as a reinvention, as its grand façade gave solution to interiors of bracing, slick surfaces and postmodern juxtapositions.
And it should be stated that the lodge’s Erra Spa is among the finest executed spas in Italy, with creatively conceived experiences (an ice room, a hearth room, a Himalayan salt room, a waterfall bathe circuit) arrayed round a superb blue thalassotherapy pool. What I beloved in regards to the Grand Victoria was its confidence: Right here was a proudly Nineteenth-century landmark palazzo that, when just lately renovated, drew upon one of the best of hospitality from around the globe; even the seating surrounding the pool was composed of more-than-ample daybeds set inside Balinese-style pavilions. It delivered delight and shock, with out sacrificing sense of place, which is precisely how luxurious hospitality stays related.
Motels in Temporary
- Vista Palazzo: The design-forward boutique lodge situated in a central sq. is handy to each ferry and attraction within the city of Como. Its Sottovocce restaurant, the place the service is masterful, serves up glorious dishes such because the Ravioli Alla Norma (ravioli stuffed with scamorza cheese and eggplant). The rooftop terrace is the right place to admire the lake over the rim of a Bellini.
- Villa Flori: The suites on this lakefront lodge provide a notable degree of lushness, with thoughtful design touches—like padded, elegantly printed wall coverings. To dine within the backyard, both for breakfast or dinner, is to expertise a degree of serenity and refinement for which Lake Como is understood.
- Grand Lodge Tremezzo: The palatial façade and floating pool are merely the appetizers to this dwelling murals; behind the primary constructing, an Asian-style greenstone-tiled pool and tropical gardens present further wow elements. Some suites boast direct entry to the gardens and huge decks overlooking the lake and mountains. Don’t miss the grotto-like indoor-outdoor spa pool.
- Grand Lodge Victoria: Representing a daring reimagining of a Lake Como palazzo, the Grand Victoria embraces state-of-the-art type, from the high-tech visitor rooms and health club to the imaginative spa experiences. The personalised service, underneath the watchful eye of common supervisor Marco Montagnani, goes above and past in each respect (COVID-19 testing preparations included—see our steerage right here).