Why the stars love Lake Como…umm who wouldn’t? My husband and I had been planning to revisit Italy after he graduated from residency. Although I was 23 weeks pregnant, I was up for the journey. Who wouldn’t be up for three weeks in Italy? We started in Rome but then made our way north toward Lake Como. I love European train rides, but I don’t love getting luggage on and off of them. Thankfully, I was pregnant (excuse central) so I left the heavy lifting to Dave.
I hadn’t anticipated the temperature difference between Rome and Lake Como, but I was grateful for the comfortable drop in temp. Rome had been almost unbearable, as had pretty much every part of the world that summer. Pregnancy, 120 degree weather, and limited air conditioning are not a happy combination. My favorite place in Rome was in the pool or in front of a fan!
Seeing Lake Como for the first time was like stepping into a scene from a movie. It is breathtaking! The charm of the winding streets, the beauty of the mountains against the water, the picturesque villas…a fairytale destination for sure. We decided to split our week between two hotels on opposite sides of the lake. Our first stop was the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. This charming hotel is situated on a hillside, offering great views of both the mountains and the lake. The restaurants and spa were charming, and the lounge and billiards room were like something from a different era. Although the hotel had an in-ground pool on the hillside, they also had a floating pool on the lake! Yes, floating! It was one of the coolest and literally coldest pools I have ever been in (okay, my TOES have ever been in. That’s as far as I made it!) Lake Como is chilly! And, while they say that the floating pools are heated…I question the Italian’s definition of heat.
We spent our time roaming the streets, lounging by the pool, and enjoying the pizza and pasta. On our second day we hired a driver for a day trip to Switzerland. I figured that if we were that close we had to make a dedicated chocolate run across the Swiss border. The following day we took a ferry-boat over to Bellagio. On the way, we passed the house where the James Bond Casino Royal movie was filmed, Villa La Gaeta! Too cool!
Bellagio is beautiful. Little shops and restaurants comprise this town filled with antiquity. My favorite stop was for Hot Chocolate! You may question this on a hot summer’s day, but Caffe Bar Rossi, the oldest coffee shop in town with a front row view of the lake, is known for their amazing coffee and hot chocolate. Since I was pregnant I was staying away from coffee, but I wasn’t going to pass up chocolate! I also had the best risotto that my tongue has ever tasted at a little restaurant down the strip (unfortunately, I can’t recall the name). We took the time to enter the historic gardens and park in Bellagio, Giardini di Villa Melzi. It was a beautiful hike and it offered amazing views of the lake.
Hopping back on our ferry, we headed back to our hotel for the last time before moving across the lake to Casta Diva Resort and Spa. This hotel comes with all of the amenities. It was recently built and the accommodations are probably the best on the lake. The service and food at the time was so, so, but I would return for the spa, pool, grounds, and accommodations. It was here that we met a lovely couple from the Ukraine who decided to host us for a couple of days. Oh, did I mention that they were mulit-mulit-mulit-millionares! They were Lake Como regulars and were generous enough to show us the sites on a private boat. The way to see Lake Como is definitely by boat! They were able to point out George Clooney’s villa and even took us to a luxury hotel, Villa d’Este that evening for dinner where Clooney was dining! What more could a girl ask for????? Okay, on a disappointing note, Clooney was hidden in a private tent away from the rest of the diners (poor Clooney…he didn’t get to enjoy the spectacular view of the hotel or water. It must be tough being famous). I’m not usually a star struck kind of girl, but knowing that Clooney was only a few yards away from me…!!!!
Getting into the restaurant was quite the process. We were taken by a private driver, and then the guys were brought ties on a silver tray (since they were slightly under-dressed). Once their attire was up to code, we were led to an enchanting candle lit outdoor dining room. Tables were filled with fine china, gourmet pasta and risotto, and of course branzino and sea bass. Local fish is a huge part of the Lake Como experience. Since I was pregnant and unsure of the mercury content…I passed. However, the parmesan Risotto was love at first bite. How anyone can make something that spectacular from rice and cheese…???
The following day, Dave and I took our own boat ride on the lake. It was amazing. When we returned, we headed to the spa and to this hotel’s floating pool (still freezing!) For dinner that night we went to another Clooney favorite, Ristorante Navedano. Although we didn’t get lucky with his presence two nights in a row, the food was still delicious and the setting charming. Make sure to have cash on you when visiting Como because many of the restaurants don’t accept credit cards! We learned the hard way. Dave ended up doing dishes and I cleared tables (okay, not really, but almost!)
As our time in Como came to an end, we sadly packed our bags and headed south from Milan toward Rome. With less than a dollar left in cash (again, Lake Como is pretty much a cash only destination…which we were unaware of!) and one pregnant momma dying for some bottled water, Dave generously handed me the last of our coins. In the meantime he said a prayer and felt in the bottom of the vending machine. Can you believe that someone had forgotten their change! It was just enough for another water. After a week of luxury, it was funny that we were now foraging vending machines for change:) It was worth it though! I’m not sure when we will make it back to Lake Como, but I’m sure we will return at some point. My one week love affair was amazing, but it definitely left me wanting more!
From The Mom in Me, MD