It’s no secret that Lake Como, Italy has become a hotspot for travelers, and it’s not just because there’s a potential George and Amal sighting in your future if you visit (ok, that’s maybe part of it). The attraction of Lake Como lies in its spectacular scenery, the tiny lakeside hamlets that preserve their traditional charm, the fabulous gardens framing sumptuous villas—former summer homes of the Lombardy aristocracy—and the mild climate enhanced by the vision of snow-capped peaks reflected in the glass-like surface of the lake.
And who better to reveal the absolute best places to wine, dine and visit when you’re there than a chic, stylish, successful native to Como? We asked Valentina De Santis (pictured below), CEO of the stunning Grand Tremezzo Hotel perched romantically above the water on the lake. Below, she shares her favorite spots around the city, and why it’s such a fabulous place. “At every hour of the day in every day of the year, the lake is simply pure magic,” she says. “Lake Como is surely one of the most celebrated and beautiful lakes in Italy, if not places, in the world. Above all, its ability to continually renew itself while remaining unchanged makes it unique and remains its true secret.”
Boating around the lake
There is no better way to explore the lake than from the water itself. Renting a Venetian motor launch (GHT’s Ruy or Batt), and showing all your nautical skills driving around, is one of the best ways to explore the Lake. Having your captain that cruise you in style, or simply catching one of the traditional public ‘battellos’, the water itself is the best vantage point to admire all the beauty of Lake Como from the most memorable and unique perspective.
Villa Sola Cabiati
Since the 18th century, Villa Sola Cabiati has been considered one of the most beautiful villas flanking Lake Como. A hallmark of Italian art, it passed through the hands of one of the most noble families in Lombardy for generations, and its astonishing interiors and invaluable collections remained a secret for all. After centuries of being a private residence, we have now the huge honor to include the villa in the Grand Hotel Tremezzo collection. Stepping into its gate means stepping into a story filled with art, architecture and the aristocratic art de vivre. It is one place in the world where you can really feel to breathe the history, to live the history.
Careno with its trattoria
Careno is a tiny village lost in the time past. The perfect experience here is to reach its imbarcadero by water, then climb few of the 450 steps of the staircase that crosses the village from the lake up to the top, just to reach Trattoria del Porto, the most authentic Italian trattoria on the lake run by a local family since generations, where you can taste the best local recipes made from an Italian mamma. After dinner, the owner Zambra will give you the keys of the magically beautiful romanesque church of the village, that you can visit completely alone taking all the time you need to meditate and admire the lake. It's an experience very difficult to forget!
San Martino walk
Perching on the top of a rocky mountain, San Martino church looks as though it’s been dropped from the sky. From the lake it looks totally impossible to reach, but it is actually a wonderful and quite easy walk passing through some of the most amazing panoramic spots of the lake. Clamber up to the peak and enjoy the most spectacular views.
Authentic, Italian dinner
It is difficult to choose one restaurant only, as you can have an amazing, authentic Italian dinner in so many places on Lake Como. Just to name a few, my favorite ones are ‘Crotto dei Platani' for its amazing terrace suspended like for magic on the water, ‘La Tirlindana’ for its super charming location on the most fascinating little square ‘pie-dans-l’eau’ just facing the Isola Comacina, ‘La Fagurida’ for its authentic menu and local vibe and ‘Al Veluu’ for the unparalleled views over Punta Balbianello and Golfo di Vedere. Not to forget ‘La Volpe’, a true secret hidden on the top of a mountain where a family serves delicious homemade menus in a truly spectacular place. One of the “must-try dishes” in Italy is definitely a plate of “pasta al pomodoro” with basil. It’s authentic, savory, healthy and never banal. Simple and delicious, like everything in Italy is.