In April, Milan is completely booked up because of the Salone del Mobile, so we stayed in Cernobbio in Lake Como, about 40km north of Milan. (The hardship, I know!) It was a beautiful spot, right on the lake, and we made the most of the location.
We hired a restored speedboat that had previously been used on the canals of Venice and I made sure to give George Clooney the royal wave as we passed his place on the shore of the lake. The sense of romance at Lake Como is breathtaking, as is the architecture. The influence of the Roman Empire is writ large in the buildings, softened by the faded pastel pinks, blues and sandstone colours that are typical of the region, and punctuated by gorgeous wisteria at that time of year. Everything has a faded look, but nothing is allowed to fall into disrepair or ruin.
Lake Como residents embrace the outdoors life, sitting outside to eat and drink and people watch. And it’s definitely a town that embraces the siesta. Shops and restaurants open from 10am until 12pm, then they won’t reopen until 4pm, and in the summer you can expect to eat dinner at about 10pm. It sounds odd, but when you’re living it you soon get into the swing of things and light late-night bites make perfect sense.
Villa d’Este is one of Lake Como’s most recognizable destinations. A luxe boutique hotel – and formerly a 16thCentury palace – the drinks are costly ($100 for a single glass of Champagne) but they serve you endless nibbles alongside your glass of bubbles so you can easily sit, and sip, and enjoy the lake views there for four hours!
My top tip for Lake Como is to make a plan. There’s way too much to see in one day so map out the sites you want to see and give yourself plenty of time.