Photo: Lake Como (courtesy Grand Hotel Tremezzo)
Be prepared to hear the “G” word when you tell your pals you’re honeymooning in Lake Como. Sure, there will be a few utterances of “I hear it’s beautiful there” and many a gasp of “Ooh!” But as sure as Lady Gaga will wear something with an expiration date, people will entreat you to “Tell George I said ‘Hello’” when you arrive at Italy’s most famous lake. Just smile politely and nod.
Yes, George Clooney has a modest estate on the western shore of Lake Como. Yes, his presence at Lago di Como, as the Italians call it, has kissed the region with Hollywood cachet. But Lake Como was a serene refuge long before it glowed with the sheen of Clooney’s stardom.
Located at the northern edge of Italy mere kilometers from Switzerland, Lake Como feels like the demure, landlocked cousin of the raucous seafronts of southern Italy. The lake, one of the deepest in Europe, is shaped like an inversion of the letter “Y,” and is surrounded on nearly every side by steep mountainsides: Bregagno, Grigne, and San Primo. The contrast between still waters and craggy slopes is impressive, yes, but even more remarkable is the quietude.
Though it’s cold in the winter, come spring, when the mountain snow melts, and on through autumn, there is an activity for nearly every breed of leisure seeker. Wander the hillside streets and shops of tony Bellagio; swim the lake’s waters, rarely warm but always refreshing; hike one of the many mountain trails; rove the length of the lake in a chartered boat; or simply lounge outdoors at a waterfront hotel. There is so much stillness to experience, you will never even think to wonder about that “G” person.
Terrace of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo (courtesy Grand Hotel Tremezzo)
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo, a 103-year-old art nouveau palace on the elegant west side of the lake, has a storied history. choose the honeymoon suite, a.k.a. suite maria, as an extravagant home base. it features a Jacuzzi, multiple rooms and a balcony overlooking the glittering water. GrandHotelTremezzo.com
Locanda La Volpe, a newly opened farmhouse restaurant, is situated in Plesio, perched high in the mountains above Lake Como’s west edge. as “volpe” means “fox,” there is a vulpine motif everywhere, from the interior decorations to the china, upon which the chef places superb pasta, meat and fish dishes made from the finest regional ingredients. LocandalaVolpe.it
Some of the most stately properties in Lake Como are only visible from the water, so board a ferry, rent a taxi boat, or hire a private skiff. A few standout landmarks: Villa del Balbianello with its terraced gardens; Isola Comacina, in the middle of the lake; the glorious Villa Melzi d’Elri in Bellagio.
If you crave vigorous exercise — outside the walls of your honeymoon suite, that is— the paths around and up the region’s mountain ranges warrant an ascent. For an unparalleled view and workout, hike to the church of San Martino. LakeComo.it.