OMGeorge! After Tina Fey and Amy Poehler got the infamous bachelor in one of the Golden Globes’ best jokes—Gravity is “the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age”—I have to ask: “Why, George, why drift into the cosmos when Lake Como is an option?”
Clooney made Villa Oleandra his second home in Laglio back in 2001, and his love of Italy’s northernmost region doesn’t appear to be waning. (The same can’t be said for his relationships; our favorite was Elisabetta Canalis, the Italian actress who, prior to her high-profile romance, was a background dancer on a parody news show.) But why should he vacation anywhere else? As seen during my recent visit, Lake Como—located just an hour’s drive from the Milan airport—is one of the most romantic and calming destinations in the world, perfect for a Valentine’s Day romp or, perhaps, an early retirement.
So if the Monument Man does decide to settle down, we know where he’ll be—lounging, cold drink in one hand, a beautiful model in the other, with a view of one of the world’s best bodies (of water). From the beautifully ornate Grand Hotel Tremezzo to candlelit restaurants to a secluded hiking trail, why not take a page out of Clooney’s Como playbook? Below, where to go, what to eat and more.
OUT OF SIGHT
Turns out the people in town don’t bother Clooney much anymore. Sure, they talk. How could they not when he engages in activities both rugged (riding his motorcycle around town) and paternal (playing basketball with local kids)? But they also want to respect his privacy and keep him coming back. Take into account the observation I overheard during my stay, “After the lake itself, the second most precious asset is Clooney,” and it’s easy to understand why.
ONE FINE DAY
Don’t want to commit to buying your own lakeside villa? There are plenty of other appropriate accommodations, some with Old Hollywood flair. A favorite of lovebirds is the five-star Grand Hotel Tremezzo, built in 1910, where some couples return for proposals, weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries.
There’s the classically beautiful Greta Suite, named after frequent guest Ms. Garbo, or the more contemporary new rooftop suites (pictured below) with killer views and plenty of space for two. Wasn’t it Thoreau who said there are few finer things in life than looking upon the tranquil beauty of a lake while sitting in a hot tub?
Like many of the properties around Lake Como, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is seasonal, but reopens with renovations March 14. Perfect do-over after you blow it on Valentine’s Day plans.
Also at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo is the couples T Spa Suite by ESPA with a joint sauna, shower and couples massage, which can be reserved for a very private few hours after dinner.
THE PERFECT STORM
George dear, look away, this isn’t for you. Near one of Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s outdoor pools and red clay tennis courts is a secluded nook dubbed the “tell me yes” corner. During sunset the dolomite rock at the nearby Grigne mountaintops shines and goes “pop”—just like your question.
O BELLAGIO, WHERE ART THOU?
Someone must have forgotten to pay the water bill because the dancing fountains were turned off during my visit, but nevertheless, the real Bellagio proves even more captivating than Las Vegas’s pseudo version. A ferry from Tremezzo deposits visitors on Bellagio’s cobble-stoned streets that wind between photography shops and art shops and many, many silk scarf shops, with motorcycles just like George’s parked crisscross outside storefronts.
BURN AFTER EATING
The infinitely charming Bar Sport in Bellagio is a must-visit for the revelatory gelato and people-watching opportunities. And then there’s the owner, Emilio, whose father started the pasticceria (pictured right) and whose memory is immortalized in postcards sold in this bar loaded with sweets. He scoops that hazelnut gelato so deliberately and carefully it’s like he’s paid by the cone. Sometimes love is in the details.
UP IN THE AIR
They won’t count toward your ten million frequent flier miles, but the view alone is worth it. Rent a hydroplane—guests can arrange through Grand Hotel Tremezzo—and soar above Lake Como and the nearby Lake Lugano.
THE THIN RED WINE
Every restaurant boasts “lakeside views” but go to Crotto dei Platani, a favorite of locals, and sit in a gorgeous little sunny corner table on the balcony and eat and eat: perch ravioli with dried-fish roe; fried lake fish with citrus panure; turbot filet with black truffle. You’re on a lake, after all.
CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS BOND
Villa Balbianello, one of the biggest attractions in Como, might be recognizable from its pivotal role in Casino Royale. It’s also a highly desirable wedding destination—those gardens, that view!—but visitors not saying “I do” can request guided tours.
THE STRIDES OF MARCH
Start in Griante near the western shores of Lake Como (a short distance from Tremezzo) and take a 45-minute hike up to San Martino church—you’ll be rewarded with an epic landscape view of Lake Como and, hopefully, the bottle of wine you brought along.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX
Walk into the cozy den that is Locanda La Volpe, located a 20-minute drive from Tremezzo in Plesio, and with its giant hearth and stuffed and painted foxes resting in every nook, it’s like Roald Dahl’s imagination come to life. You could make a meal of the neon red bruschetta, but don’t worry, there’s always more. As George knows, this is la dolce vita.
GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Opens for spring season on March 14
Rates vary according to availability
George’s Villa Oleandra
Rates begin at…keep dreaming