When he purchased Villa Oleandra on Lake Como, George Clooney was one of the first to appreciate the calm attraction of the lake, leading many other celebrities to follow suit and head for these freshwater shores.
Few other lakes have such a high concentration of luxury hotels. Expensive, of course, but here are the secrets for gaining access to the most exclusive locations, also because, even if you just order a drink, you can enjoy a marvellous view from every terrace.
From 0 to 25 Euro | Eating at Lake Como
The opening in Torno of the brand new 5-star luxury design hotel belonging to the Sereno group is all set for its first season, having already caused quite a stir on the calm waters of the lake. Designed by Patricia Urquiola, the hotel offers just 30 exquisite suites and the Berton Al Lago restaurant – run by starred chef Andrea Berton and executive chef Raffaele Lenzi.
Even on the tiniest budget, you may enjoy one of these dishes: veal in tuna sauce, anchovies and a crisp bread topping (21 Euro) or steamed freshwater char, white celery and pickled fish (19 Euro), or if you prefer a delicious cream of pistachios, wild strawberries and salted pistachios (15 Euro). At these prices you can even afford to order a drink made up by expert mixologist Marco Gheza. What could be more luxurious than tasting a zero kilometre gin? Made from herbs such as thyme, melissa and savory which grow wild on the meadows and mountains around Like Como, here is the Rivo "Foraged Gin", which is very balsamic and very hipster. You can enjoy this treat at the Bar Giuliani restaurant and wine bar in Como.
From 25 to 50 Euro | Eating at Lake Como
More novelties are in store at the Casta Diva Resort & Spa which, for the entire season, has engaged Italian chef Enrico Derflingher as a consultant to flank resident chef Massimiliano Mandozzi. At the Orangerie restaurant, between dips in the pool, a glance at the view between one marble column and another, you can order a risotto creamed with asparagus, mandarin, pistachios and scampi, or a millefeuille filled with freshwater char, spring onions, asparagus, quails’ eggs and caviar (both dishes are priced at 35 Euro).
In April, the season will also get off to a start for Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, where the azalea blooms make the lake’s oldest hotel absolutely charming.
Chef Ettore Bocchia, the first to introduce liquid nitrogen to the kitchen, supervises the Mistral gourmet restaurant and the more informal Goletta. Both of them offer a panoramic view and in each of them, Bocchia treats every ingredient as though it were a special mission. This is evident starting from his pizza with Piennolo tomato, perlina aubergine, onion from Tropea and raw red prawns (29 Euro).
There is also room for a fine glass of biodynamic Chardonnay: the chef will be happy to advise you because he is a sommelier. If you prefer Bocchia’s starred cuisine, you can convince him to extract at least one of his signature dishes from the gourmet menu of molecular cuisine (170 Euro): the ultimate turbot cooked in sugar with potato foam, steamed vegetables and leek sauce.
From 50 to 100 Euro | Eating at Lake Como
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is one of the most famous hotels in the world: the view can be enjoyed at its best at sunset when it turns the mountains of the Grigne pink and the town of Bellagio in its nocturnal version offers an unforgettable sight. In the restaurant La Terrazza, the menu is inspired by Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi and the gold and saffron rice (34 Euro) acquires different nuances of flavour with a lakeside view. The second princely course, which is still within your budget, is lobster and maccheroni (52 Euro).
Those who prefer something less traditional can opt for a gourmet sandwich or a dessert (25 Euro) accompanied with a cocktail on the terrace of the TBar, looking out onto the floating pool. Choose one from the special menu dubbed The signature and luxury at 30 Euro. The Platinum Margarita is superlative: Tequila Patron Platinum, Cointreau, Lemon Juice and Maldon salt.