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Lake Como: Europe’s original luxury holiday destination
Guides & Destinations, Travel

Lake Como: Europe’s original luxury holiday destination

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As I’m about to write this post, my lips are forming a subtle smile and my fingers are eagerly running over the keyboard. This is a favorite topic of mine; old-world luxury holiday destinations that used to make people dream of careless summer holidays and exotic romances. Some of them still do. Lake Como is one of these magical destinations that never looses its charm. It’s the essence of ‘the good life’ or ‘la vita bella’, as the Italians would say. And in this post, I’m going to take you with me on a little journey to this little corner of paradise in Lombardia.

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The perfect honeymoon destination

Throughout the years, many couples have chosen Lake Como as their honeymoon destination, and even though I’m not married myself, I can only imagine why. First of all, the lake is easy to reach from Milan Airport (approx. 1 hour by car), the landscape surrounding the lake is incredible, and the journey itself is worth the trip. I’d recommend driving your own car or renting a car for the purpose, as this is simply the best way to explore Italy and, in particular, the lake areas. With Covid-19 impacting the way we’re going to travel in the future, I’m sure roadtrips will be a popular way to get around. Sandown Mercedes is a British car rental company specialized in Mercedes-Benz; simply choose your favorite model (a convertible, right?) and start planning your roadtrip through one of Italy’s most beautiful, lush regions, Lombardia.

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If you’re getting married within the next few years, there are several reasons to choose Lake Como as your preferred honeymoon destination. The landscape speaks for itself, and so does the endless summer nights on the glistening lake, which by the way is Italy’s 3rd largest. With its 410 meters, it’s also one of the deepest in Europe.
Scattered around Lake Como, you’ll find plenty of charming little taverns where generations of the same families have been working for innumerable years. Locanda dell’Isola Comacina is one of them. On my latest trip to Lake Como a few years ago, I had the pleasure of dining here, and the experience is still fresh on my mind; perhaps because the menu here didn’t change since 1948 and, together with a handful of other places, it’s essentially what makes Lake Como so very special. Locals speak of the so-called ‘Clooney effect’ (George Clooney is one of the many celebrities owning a house by the shores of Lake Como), which has caused a 25% increase in tourism in the last decade or so. Covid-19 has probably put an end to that, at least for now, but I’d still recommend you to avoid the busiest month of the year (June-August) and opt for the somehow calmer months of May, September or October instead.

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Benvenuto is preparing lunch at the table at his family restaurant, Locanda dell’Isola Comacina

A mecca for classic luxury hotels

Since Roman times, Lake Como has been a refuge for wealthy people and aristocrats. To this day, it’s still seen as a luxurious destination – despite the tourists – and that can probably be attributed to the fact that the unspoiled gems are still easy to find. Like pearls on a string, the grand old luxury hotels are throning on the shores of Lake Como. Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in the picturesque town of Bellagio is one of them; Grand Hotel Tremezzo is another. In the film Grand Hotel from 1932, actress Greta Garbo refers to the last-mentioned hotel as ‘the happy, sunny place’, which isn’t hard to imagine. Since then, both locals, tourists and celebrities have declared their love for the area, and I believe that’s the true beauty of it; Lake Como has a knack for gathering people regardless of age, culture and rank.

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Many of the iconic hotels around Lake Como are housing incredible old world interiors.

The grand hotels here function as a gateway to a past era of glamour and impeccable hospitality, but they’re not alone. The famous lakeside villas, which have been built here since Roman times, are also source of great admiration. Several of them are open to the public, so do treat yourself with a visit to at least one of them if you plan a holiday here. Villa Carlotta is one of my personal favorites because of its stunning architecture, colorful history and tropical garden. It was built for the Milanese Marquis Giorgio Clerici in 1690 on the shores of Tremezzo, and named after a certain Princess Carlotta in 1843. Villa d’Este and Villa Gallia are even older, but that’s another story.

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over-looking the lake from one of the local villas.

Ferries are linking the small towns of Lake Como, but it’s of course also possible to get around by boat. A definite must-try when here as it shows the lake from its most enjoyable side. If you’re a resident at one of the grand hotels, speed boat rides are often included.

It’s been a few years since I was last visiting Lake Como, and I can slowly feel the itch to go back. Once you’ve been, the memory of this fine destination stays with you for a long, long time. If not forever. Due to the current health pandemic, there are obviously travel restrictions to take into consideration. Hopefully, these will lift soon so we can all get a dose of La vita bella and the incomparable Lake Como.

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Lake Como in its very essence captured beautifully by the American photographer Gray Malin

The article is sponsored and written in collaboration with Sandown Mercedes. All views and opinions are, as always, my own.

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