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Just Back From Italy Part 2: Suzanne’s trip to Lake Como

After exploring the Amalfi Coast and its definitive landscape, charming villas on the ocean, and beachfront restaurants, it was time to head north to a different climate and ambiance: Lake Como. We set off not only to explore villas, but to experience firsthand what makes this region so special

Lake Como

The hour-long ferry ride from the port of Capri to Naples is quite pleasant, and not as rough as expected. Once we arrived, we met up with our driver who drove us less than 10 minutes to the train station.

Our train departed for Milan, with a few stops along the way in Rome, Florence, and Bologna. After about four hours through the beautiful Italian countryside, we arrived into Milan. The station opened up with, enormous glass ceilings, allowing passengers to share a jaw-dropping moment. We quickly loaded our things into our car and commenced the last leg of our journey; a northern drive to Lake Como.

Arriving in Lake Como

Perhaps traveling from Capri to Lake Como in one day was a bit ambitious, but less than two hours after leaving Milan, we arrived to the Village of Varenna and our hotel, Hotel Villa Cipressi.

We checked into our newly renovated rooms on the first floor. Each medium-sized space had been recently updated to a more modern room with village and lakeside views to the west. After gathering our luggage and freshening up, we took a five-minute walk to dinner at our sister property, Victorian Hotel. After enjoying a delicious pizza, it was time to settle into our new home for the next few nights.

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View of Varenna from my room at Hotel villa Cipressi

 

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Botanical garden at Hotel Villa Cipressi

 

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Café on the lake in Varenna

Starting Villa Tours

There is no better feeling than waking up to thin layers of fog resting gently over Lake Como. Our antique hotel lead us on a winding path into the breakfast room for a quick meal before we started our day. After an enjoyable breakfast we were off to  Villa BRV DDA. Our journey started with a five-minute drive to the ferry dock where we boarded a car ferry to Menaggio. From there we traveled north to a village called San Siro. Our GPS was struggling and so we drove slowly through meandering roads, until Jean spotted an old sign that said ‘Camilla’, the villas original name, and up the driveway we went.

The eight-bedroom property is comprised of the main villa and a one-bedroom guest cottage. Built in 1859, it was originally a summer home for a family from Milan. Its originality gives the property old world charm and an inimitable character. The grounds were busy with workmen who were preparing the villa for the summer’s first guests. Beautiful gardens, tennis courts, a small playground, and a lovely pool area surround the property. This is a great accommodation for any family.

Villa BRV MLT, a six-bedroom villa, is located directly on the water, two villages north of Dada in Pianello del Lario. The first floor of the home contains the quaint bedrooms and large master suite that are perfect for any family. On the grounds of the villa there is a pool that can be opened or covered for rainy days. A pedestrian walkway is placed near the front of the house, giving guests access to a beach area and four different restaurants. The ceaseless love for this property is appreciated via old black and white photos peppered throughout the house, highlighting the original owner and his passion for the villa and the exquisite surroundings.

Villa D’Este

We stopped for lunch at Hotel Belvedere in the village of Argegno on our way to Villa D’Este.

The hotel is located a mere fifteen-minute drive from Cernobbio, the charming location of D’Este. The ambiance was relaxing and the food was delicious. You can not go wrong ordering at this restaurant, but we highly suggest any of their pastas or risotto. Pair these factors with a stunning northern view of the lake and local village and you get an unbeatable dining experience.

Villa BRV MLK – After a short drive to Villa D’Este, we toured around this four-bedroom villa originally built in 1860. The villa had recently undergone serious renovations, which replaced the old-world charm with a warm a cozy ambiance. Two bedrooms rest on the first floor of the house while two identical bedrooms are on the second floor of the home. The home is stunning, and guests can walk five minutes to the main hotel where there are several pools and delicious restaurants.

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Villa BRV MLK

Villa BRV GAR – A short three-minute walk from BRV MLK is BRV GAR, a six-bedroom villa. The closeness of the two homes is perfect for accommodating a large group of guests. BRV GAR has an open-style layout, which creates a lovely communal space. In the back of the house is a private sun room that faces the gardens. It is the ideal private space for resting and taking in the magnificently-groomed landscaping.

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Villa BRV GAR

The Hotel Villa D’Este is one of the finest hotels on Lake Como. It has the perfect mix of elegance and simplicity, and contains 105 lovely rooms.

Exploring Como and Beyond

On our day off, we were hit with rain, but it did not stop us from exploring everything the region had to offer. We started in Varenna and drove south east toward Lecco, where we took a sharp turn west and began to drive towards Como. After a long drive through the industrial landscape, we made it to Como. The city was stunning, and a bit larger than we imagined. Surrounding the area are many small villages that seemed calmer. After a brief drive through Como, we found a great lunch location at Hotel Villa Flori. The restaurant within this hotel is Ristorante Raimondi, a restaurant that offers a gorgeous view, fantastic service, and wonderful food.

Before parting ways with our beautiful hotel, we enjoyed a walk around the hotel’s botanical garden. The garden was magical and provided the peaceful experience needed before continuing our journey. After checking-out of our hotel, we headed to the Varenna ferry dock for destination: Bellagio. Upon disembarking, we drove southwest towards Torno and our hotel for the next two nights, the modern and luxurious Il Sereno.

Hotel Il Sereno

The meandering drive going south through Bellagio was picturesque. We passed small villages that had the perfect amount of local charm along with dramatic views of the natural landscape. In less than an hour from Bellagio, we reached the sleepy village of Torno. Our hotel was hidden from the road, creating a secluded paradise for hotel guests.

Large glass windows line the lake side of the hotel, opening up to exclusive views of the lake. The modern flare of the hotel reinforces the simplicity and fragility of such a beautiful structure. Before moving to our rooms, we were served chilled Moroccan tea that was infused with lavender and orange. We were then welcomed by the general manager, who guided us to our lovely suites.

Villas at Il Sereno

Shortly after checking in, we went to explore one of Il Sereno’s famous villas, Villa BRV PLI, a stunning spot with up to 17 bedrooms.

As you drive down the secluded entrance to the villa, you pass by a few separate apartments on your way to the main property. The separation of the bedrooms into apartments makes this villa the perfect location for large group visits, and events. Constructed in the 16th century, the villa is structurally sound and riddled with history. Although the villa is surrounded by thick landscape, it provides some of the most incredible and unbeatable views of the lake. The distinguished levels of dining, glorious views, and overall immensity of this villa make it the perfect accommodation for a large family gathering or corporate event.

More Villa Tours

After breakfast, we headed out to our afternoon appointments in the village of Blevio, which was conveniently close to where we were staying in Torno.

Built at the end of the 18th century, Villa BRV SER used to only be accessible by boat until a winding road was built down to the villa in 1910. After all these years, the villa has been able to maintain its old-world charm, warmth, and character. The living area downstairs was bright, open, and welcoming, thus creating the perfect place for gatherings. Right next to the villa’s heated pool is a small gate that leads guests out to a walkway into the local village. A five minute walk down the hill from BRV SER takes you to the charming local restaurant, Momi, as well as a ferry stop.

Directly next to Villa BRV SER, and across the lake from Villa D’Este, is the lovely, 7-bedroom, Villa BRV MAR. The villa is magical in its ability to balance opulence and warmth. Everything in this home, from the fresh flowers, to books and antiques, is arranged perfectly, and with purpose. We ate lunch with the owner in the stunning candle-lit dining room, surrounded by gorgeous family portraits and above us, an elegant crystal chandelier. With the inclusion of a butler, chef, and maid service, any guest would feel pampered at these two villas.

Our next journey took us to the village of Ossuccio, to see the lovely three-bedroom,  Villa BRV CIR. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with welcome baskets filled to the brim with pasta, olive oil, sparkling wine, and many other amenities. Although this is one of the smaller villas in the region, BRV CIR is bright, colorful, and modern. It is a charming home that comes with a heated jacuzzi and a convenient pedestrian walkway into town. A buoy can be arranged for guests who charter a boat.

After we left, made a stop at Villa Carlotta, a few towns north in Tremezzo, famous for its elaborate botanical gardens. It did not disappoint.

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Villa Carlotta Gardens

After that, we drove north to the car ferry dock and off we went to Bellagio, and soon, our home for the last night, Il Sereno.

Last Day in Lake Como

Before we left, I braved the elements and took a swim in Il Sereno’s heavenly, heated outdoor pool. Saying goodbye to this wonderful place was not easy. Every staff member makes guests feel welcome, special, and pampered. This was, without a doubt, my favorite hotel in this region.

We drove south to Como and continued south to Milan, towards the whimsical Chateau Monfort. The friendly staff works incredibly hard to make every guest experience as smooth as it can be. After checking into our rooms, we enjoyed a delicious pasta lunch in the hotel’s elegant and bright dining room. Afterward, we decided to walk to the main square, less than a mile away.

Some wonderful architecture began revealing itself as we ventured toward the old city’s main square. We stopped at a few shops and continued towards the main mall area that was overflowing with tourists. After a long day of walking, we left the crowds behind and headed back to our hotel, passing the city’s famous Opera House along the way.

Parting Thoughts

We had an incredible breakfast on our final morning, one that rivaled all of the others we had on this trip. We packed our things and started our long journey home, reminiscing on all the breathtaking views, lovely villas, delicious food, and special people we met along the way.

Until next time!

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