“That’s the villa there, with the guest house next door”. A group of expats were talking quite loudly about a certain Mr & Mrs Clooney’s abode as we sailed by on the slow boat around Lake Como. It didn’t look like they were at home so popping round for the last pod of coffee was out of the question. Never mind! The journey itself was serene; a sublime panorama featuring a shoreline littered with elegant grand residences. We glided by mansions used in movies perched magnificently on the water’s edge and were given useful photo opportunity tips by the friendly boat crew.

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It’s not hard to understand why George decided to snap up an 18th Century villa on Italy’s third largest lake, it’s site was gouged out by glacial activity, rendering it one of the deepest in Europe. The lake’s beauty has stirred the creative juices of composers Verdi and Puccini, awakened artists Da Vinci and Bellini, and invigorated authors Wordsworth and Shelley, as well as providing a political respite for Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy.

It was easy to get a direct train to one of Lake Como’s towns, Varenna, from Milan. A stroll through the terraces of Villa Monastero was a sensational start to the morning off with. Originally the site of a convent it is now a public museum. The accompanying botanical gardens spring up from a strip of land that stretches along the lake. In amongst the shrubbery, strategically positioned statues accentuate the grandeur of the designer horticulture. The gardens are so glorious that you almost want to invent an excuse to get married there. Such a shame George is unavailable. 

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Varenna seems to be less overrun than some of the other towns, at least out of peak season during the week. It was nice to experience the town gradually waking up and it’s cute little streets accessorised with classic Italian designs.

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It’s quite a steep climb up to the Castello di Vezio but it is definitely worth the climb. The origin of the fortress at the top is uncertain, but considering the vantage point, the best guess is some kind of stronghold to protect the town from invaders, probably from the Roman period. The watchtower stills stands, and provides a great all-round outlook over the lake. As with many ancient relics, there are plenty of mythical stories swirling around. It is said that the ghost of one of the castle’s famous former residents, Queen Teodolinda wanders around the walls during moonlit nights. Her shadowy presence has been captured with some interesting artwork that adds a really unique edge to an already outstanding view. The castle also has daily falconry shows (check the website for the timetable).

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Hop on the ferry over to Bellagio and you have landed in a quintessential Italian riviera-style resort. It’s classy and sassy, a sparkly jewel in Lake Como’s crown of towns. There’s something really exciting about food that has a theatrical element to it, for example when your freshly made pasta is dressed in a giant wheel of Parmesan. It’s a show that definitely draws a crowd, and patrons who are suckered into a cheesy culinary show. Maybe George loves the pasta’s performance, after all, all the world’s a stage….

In Bellagio there were some nice shops to wander around, as well as the obligatory villas and their accompanying cultivated gardens to discover. The sweetest way to round off the day was taking the slow ferry from Bellagio all the way down to Como, stopping at nearly every village along the way. As a day trip, it was glorious and actually deserved to be extended into a couple of days or maybe just set up home here. Got to keep up with the Clooneys….

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If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

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