Lake Como VacationLake Como - Silk and Scenery
Whether arriving by helicopter, seaplane, or chauffeured car, little prepares you for the breathtaking scenery as you approach Lake Como. Pictures do not do justice to this European summer getaway.
Lake Como gives the phrase rich basta*ds new meaning in a glamorous yet discreet manner — minus the occasional oil tycoon and his entourage. This has been an elite destination for centuries, long before George Clooney moved into the neighborhood. Lake Como is the perfect combination of luxury, culture, food, wine and natural beauty. With its chill atmosphere, Ibiza it is not. This is a place to decompress, and although we’re only here for 48 hours, you could easily turn Como and its environs into a weeklong vacation. By New York standards, the prices for drinking and diversions are somewhat gentle. Of course, all of this is before you receive your bill from the famed Villa d’Este, which is the only way to begin the Galavante weekend. Villa d’Este is a destination unto itself; a 16th century villa perfectly situated on Lake Como with an in-lake floating swimming pooland 25 acres of gardens. Villa d’Este is one of the top hotels in the world for a reason: you know you have arrived as you observe fellow guests helicopter onto the property. After settling in, head to the town of Como, which is less than 10 minutes by boat from the city of Cernobbio. In addition to visiting the Duomo, a leisurely stroll can be spent checking out the silk shops, as Como is the silk capital of the world. A. Picci has significantly discounted Valentino scarves and ties. For lunch, take the hydrofoil from Comacina Island within Lake Como to Locanda dell’Isola Comacina. Locanda has been serving the same purely delicious, five-course prix fixe menu since it opened in 1947. This is an institution that leaves no doubt in your mind that it will be open for another 63 years. After lunch, you can spend the afternoon and early evening swimming in the Villa d’Este floating swimming pool, indulging in the spa or enjoying a pre-dinner drink at Harry’s Bar near the hotel.
For dinner, spend the first evening at Villa d’Este, dining in their formal restaurant, Veranda. Jacket and tie are required in the evening for the gents, and from the selection of loaners on reserve, you will not want to forget your own. The food is good — not spectacular— but you are there for the beauty of the surroundings, the room and the people. You’ll have your occasional tourist from Florida, but the people watching, and those who will be watching you, is worth the experience. In good weather, a band plays out on the terrace overlooking Lake Como, and although a more sophisticated scene, rates very high on the romance factor. Como is not big on nightlife but the d’Este Club is open on weekends during season. ￼ For your last day in Lake Como, head by hydrofoil to Bellagio, which is about 45 minutes away. Bellagio is the most beautiful town in Lake Como, and it is worthwhile to spend an afternoon wandering the streets and shopping. The prices in this town are shockingly affordable for silk ties at Azalea, hand crafted wooden trays at Luigi Tacchi, antique and vintage jewelry at Rosamaria Vergottini, painting and antique prints at Valentinarte and numerous children’s boutiques near Villa Serbelloni. Villa Serbelloni is the other potential place to stay, and although not as luxurious as Villa d’Este, it is located in a more lively area of the lake. Bilacus with its outdoor terrace is good for lunch and Hotel Florence, underneath the lilac trees facing the lake, is perfect for an afternoon Prosecco. If you have time, stop at the famed Villa Carlotta before heading back to Villa d’Este.
To bid farewell to Como, head to dinner at Il Gatto Nero, which is nestled in the hills above Como with a spectacular view of Cernobbio and lake below. Prime seating is on the outdoor terrace. Virtually everything you order here will be fantastic, though the Risotto del Giorno is a standout. For dessert, they bring around large jars of unlimited cookies, both a treat and a curse at the same time. You’ll feel wistful upon leaving Como after only a weekend, but it’s back to work to pay for the decadent trip. ￼