TRAVEL: A LONG WEEKEND IN LAKE COMO

Having just returned from a long weekend in Como I thought it would be great to share some of the secrets of Como with you guys. It is surprisingly difficult to find great restaurants as it is fairly quiet as it is mostly about villa living here. There is not a sophisticated social scene and it really is a place to go to rest and recuperate. However Como is still one of the most magical places I have been to and just a couple of hours from the hustle and bustle of London you can restore the senses with peace and tranquility whats not to like ?

As you only have a few days to unwind let me save you some time and share the most amazing weekend I have just had and some gorgeous discoveries I stumbled upon. It is surprising how many people who have visited Como cannot give you a recommendation for a good restaurant as they just stumble on them by accident and can “never remember the name”. So let me give you my secret guide to getting the best from Como but sssshhhhhh…….. dont tell anyone else.

SHH The Mantra For This Trip

THURSDAY

We arrive late afternoon after taking the 3.30pm BA flight to Milan from Heathrow. Hire a car but keep it small for the winding Como mountainous roads. You wont regret this. Staying at a firm favourite Il Duca Hotel close to La Scala and La Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II the wonderful designer shopping mall. Yes before heading up to Como we have one night in Milan for shopping (Como not great for shopping) and dinner at Savinis. We choose the lobster linguini and the sea bass with a bean and leek puree. Savinis has a wonderful history of famous visitors since 1867 and is one of the most prestigious restaurants in Milan. You can also choose to visit Il Duomo the beautiful cathedral in the same vicinity. Beautifully lit up at night. Back to the beautiful Il Duca for drinks on the rooftop terrace.

A relaxing coffee and croissants in one of the many street cafes before heading off to Lake Como for the 1 hour drive (one toll e 1.70). The Mandarin Hotel is just beyond the town of Como in stunning Blevio one of the early points on Lake Como . The Mandarin newly opened 2019 is a welcome luxury Hotel. I cannot praise this Hotel enough but be warned once you have stayed here nowhere else will do. From the beautiful restaurant along the lake, the floating swimming pool, sumptuous spa and outstanding service , expensive but worth every penny and 2/3 nights are plenty. From the main entrance on the winding road down to the front door of the hotel we were mesmerised by the view across the lake. We were welcomed with glasses of Prosecco and ushered to the best seats in the house to lap up the views and the prosecco.

FRIDAY

A chauffeur driven buggy escorted us to the Villa Quercia to our penthouse suite with a large terrace and a bath tub the size of swimming pool. Champagne on ice and a cornucopia of macarons , pastries ,apperitivos.

A reservation was made for a late lunch although the Hotel was mostly empty (a CV19 blessing). I can thoroughly recommend the Tuna Tataki salad and the Rose Laria , produced locally.

As we have hot stone massages booked for the evening we decide to wind down in the Spa, although the sauna and tepidariums were shut due to CV the private suite was made available to us with its own sauna and steam room.

The massages were deeply relaxing . We felt we had been away for a week already. We retired to our terrace (and the champagne and pastries) just to stop and take in the views.

SATURDAY

Decide to try out the floating pool. Dressed head to toe in Melissa Odabash head down to a very quiet pool area .The hotel has a full range of detox and revitilising fresh juices so I opt for a’ Bosco ‘to detox Even though the Hotel was not busy there is still an emphasis on peace and calm with SSSHHH notices everywhere. As we are still in full relaxation mode we have lunch at the Hotel again with King Prawns on a cacio pepe pasta. More Rose Laria.

Now one MUST DO when in Como is to hire a boat to take on the Lake. The Rivas are very expensive but the Mandarin has another option a speedboat (100€ per hour) with a sunbathing deck. Faster than a Riva so allows you to explore further and steps at the back of the boat enable a refreshing swim in the lake very chic. You can even take a picnic on board if you wish. This was the best fun and enabled us to bypass George Clooneys villa and more importantly discover a couple of stand out lakeside restaurants ( these are few and far between ). One such restaurant was Vapore in the village of Torno which once back on dry land we headed to this pretty village right next door to Blevio. Now a TIP if you stay on the main roads none of these places look amazing but dip down into the villages and they are breathtakingly beautiful. We meet Ali who owns Vapore we then find an equally stunning restaurant Belvedere …..there was Ali again yes he owns this one too. We end up there for a couple of hours when the locals invited us to join them for Franciacorta Rose . I love Italiens ! We make reservations that evening for Vapore. Head to a cafe bar on the lake for Gelato …….yes you guessed it Ali is there too. This village is picture perfect.

That evening we head to Vapore the restaurant is full to the brim we pass a celebrity wall of its past visitors including Robert de Niro, Harry Styles and Silvio Berlusconi . The setting, the food and the service was exquisite. I had fish fresh from the lake and the Tiramisu was unmissable ! As we watched the sun set over the lake I defy anyone to find a more perfect setting. This will be a permanent fixture on our future visits.

SUNDAY

Today we decide to venture a little further afield to the town of Bellagio. A tourists favourite. It has many boutiques and restaurants. Although is very busy and parking initially is very difficult. But as you come into the centre of the village carry on out the other side where we discovered a huge hillside car park and the walk back to the village was really very nice although a lot of steps and hills just to give you some warning. Wear walking shoes if you are planning a visit. The restaurants here were catering for the tourist and it took us a while as foodies to locate a really fabulous restaurant. But we found it. SUISSE, although it was authentic Italien. The best Caprese Salad , salt baked sea bass with olives,tomatoes,capers and olive oil. I am salivating just thinking about this scrummy lunch in a little square by the ƒerry stop with white clothed tables. Try it !!

Bellagio is known as “The Pearl of Lake Como” but not sure we would revisit as it was a very busy town and not the r&r we were looking for. A 45 minute hair raising cliff top drive from the Mandarin , honestly we were glad to be back in the tranquility of Blevio.

After a long day we retire to the elegant Mandarin bar spouting tunes of a bygone era. Of course while you are here it would be rude not to try George Clooneys Casamigas tequila on the rocks, it really is very smooth.

MONDAY

Unfortunately time to head home (about 30 mins direct to Malpensa Airport, Milan). The wonderful staff are there to say goodbye. Honestly it was the hardest goodbye of any trip both to the staff and the beautiful Lago Di Como. We spend some time before we leave just soaking up the view and doing nothing that is the real secret of The Lake.

We vow to return before the Summer is out…………just like everyone else !

ARRIVEDERCI COMO – TI AMO XXXXX

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