- Lake Como is Italy’s third largest lake, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore
- It has long been a retreat for the well-to-do. George Clooney has a home here
- Go in autumn when the crowds of summer have gone, but the view is still fine
It’s a huge, old-fashioned institution (still family run) — almost opposite the village of Bellagio — with its own lido, spa and uniformed staff who seem to love the theatre of it all.
And Lake Como really is theatre, one that’s best experienced by getting out on the water and admiring the towering mountains and shoreline sprinkled with terracotta-hued towns.
Hop aboard the public ferries known as battelli, or book the Tremezzo’s vintage motor launch.
This sleek and glossy wooden rocket, built in 1961 for a well-to-do Venetian family, is ideal for cruising around in the manner of George and Amal Clooney.
George has apparently bumped up business in Lake Como by 20 percent since buying his villa at Laglio 15 years ago.
Next door to the Tremezzo is Villa Carlotta, built in 1690 by a wealthy family and later given as a wedding present to a 19-year-old Princess Carlotta, by her mother. Sadly the princess had only a short time to enjoy the villa before she died in childbirth aged 23, in 1855.
Today, Villa Carlotta — with its Canova statues and fabulous gardens — is open to the public and is well worth an hour or so.
Also not to be missed is Villa del Balbianello in Tremezzina, built on a promontory in the 18th century by a cardinal. In 1974, it became the home of Count Guido Monzino, a globetrotting mountaineer, and explorer who described its restoration as his ’22nd expedition’.
Stately: The Grand Hotel Tremezzo has welcomed stars and A-listers down the years
Its rooms are filled with memorabilia from his travels including rocks from the summit of Mount Everest and a sled he took to the North Pole.
Film directors love Lake Como. In 1925, Alfred Hitchcock used it for his first film, The Pleasure Garden, and it has featured in Ocean’s Twelve and Casino Royale.
But you can star in your own movie simply by sipping a Bellini on one of the Tremezzo’s huge terraces and gazing out across the lake.