It is a rare thing for me to be silenced by a view. This is, however, exactly what happened to me every morning. Sitting out on the hotels terrace, perfectly frothed cappuccino in hand, I gazed upon a landscape so damn perfect its no wonder that the likes of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot felt compelled to paint it. From the villages so quaint they looked as though they were the miniature toy kind, to the luminosity of the distant mountains - this place was as good as it gets. My mind free from its usual racing thoughts, replaced by pure contentment fringed by tiny twang of jealousy for anyone who gets to live or even summer here.
My friend and I had been planning this trip for weeks. It was the light at the end of our busy work laden tunnel. Waking up so early there wasn’t really much point in going to sleep in the first place, we got ourselves to the airport where we located the nearest source of caffeine. One plane, train and bus later we had arrived. We were staying at the rather over indulgent Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria in Laglio (but hey you only live once and my bank balance has sort of recovered since). This place was worth every penny, the view, the food and the sort of ambience that makes you feel as though you are in a Fitzgerald novel. The staff here are also amazing, so warm and friendly, with the patience and helpfulness of a saint. We asked a lot, and I mean a lot of questions about bus times, restaurant bookings and how long should it take to do ‘insert activity’.
We of course saw all the sites, but ended up whiling away numerous hours sat in local restaurants, eating, drinking and then eating some more. Our bellies full on the likes of rabbit stew and truffle pasta it was time to leisurely potter and find a little bar somewhere for that mandatory 5 o’clock Campari spritz.
If you are thinking of going somewhere give Lake Como a try, this place can and will not disappoint you. Suggestions of things to see / do / eat are at the bottom of this post.
Lake Como provides a host of things to see and do, but here are a few of my favourites:
See / Do:
Villa Balbianello - I’m a fan of a guided tour and this place really knows how to put one on. Be sure to get the classic wooden boat back instead of walking. It departs from the villas dock at the bottom of the garden and makes you feel rather glamorous. Health warning to anyone wielding a camera - you could get lost in just how photogenic this place is.
Take a ferry across the lake, hopping of to explore the likes of Bellagio, Tremezzo and Como.
If you do end up staying at Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria, ask if you can take out their kayaks (free of charge) and go for a explore / good old fashioned snoop of the surrounding villas (George Clooney’s is only a paddle away!)
Il Gato Nero
Any local establishment that is off the tourist trail, guaranteed to have better food and prices that are not in accordance to its proximity to the lake.
Gelateria del Borgo - Fresh fig and mountain honey ice cream, need I say more?
La Fagurida - If you don’t have a car and don’t want to fork out for a taxi, this place is worth the mountain hike to get to. As authentic as it gets.
Locanda dell'Isola Comacina - Bring a very empty stomach for this Italian extravaganza, I lost count of how many courses they bring you. A heavenly lakeside setting enhanced by attentive and funny staff that will do anything to make your experience here a pleasurable one. They even brought us a new bottle of chilled white wine (free of charge) to replace our half drunken one, as they were worried it was getting warm in the sun. You could spend the whole day here.
The restaurant at Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria - The walls are adorned with local wines, and the ceiling with twinkly little lights. An intimate setting all topped off by truly wonderful Italian cooking.