Hot off a vacation to Italy, Sigourney Cantelo, founder behind Australian beauty and health site Beauticate, provides insider luxury tips to the iconic lake destination of Lake Como, known for its scenic beauty, mountain vistas and historic lakeside residences.
Describe the local culture and lifestyle of Lake Como.
is a fairytale. Majestic villas and postcard-perfect views offer endless opportunities for romance and reflection. There’s a certain freshness about the lake - with its dramatic mountain-range backdrop of the Alps - yet the big hotels have these fabulous pools on the lake, so you still get to sunbake and have a beach-like experience.
What makes Lake Como one of Italy’s most desirable locations?
The geography is totally unique and the hotels and villas are terribly chic. It doesn’t seem quite as crowded as The Amalfi Coast
or the Cinque Terre
and is also only an hours drive from Milan
, so is a great pitstop for anyone visiting the fashion capital on business.
Your favourite restaurants, café’s and bars?
We were only there for three days so didn’t stray too far from our hotel. La Terraza
at The Grand Hotel Tremezzo
has a pretty extravagant gastronomic menu (guided by one of Italy’s most famous chefs Gualtiero Marchesi) – it features a lot of local produce and has a spectacular view of The Lake. They also have L’Escale Fondue & Wine Bar
which is quite cool – you cook the fondue and BBQ at your table. For something a bit more casual try Pizzeria Balognett
. They had the thinnest, crispiest pizzas I’ve ever tried and they grow a lot of the produce in their own garden.
Did you discover any fashion, design, and lifestyle shopping destinations?
The cobbled backstreets of Bellagio
have a number of charming boutiques selling jeweled sandals and floaty caftans. There’s also a Missoni
there, too, if you feel so inclined.
Are there any architectural or significant cultural landmarks we absolutely must see?
Take a trip to the dramatic and beautiful Villa Balbianello
where scenes from James Bond, Casino Royale
and Star Wars
were shot. Villa Carlotta
is lovely, too.
What is the best time of year to travel?
We were there at the end of May which was perfect – warm and sunny but not heaving with tourists.
Where should we stay when in Lake Como?
We stayed at The Grand Hotel Tremezzo
and it was wonderful – really personal lovely service. It has an amazing private ‘beach’ and floating pool at the front with a champagne bar. Behind the hotel is a huge private garden, which has another beautiful pool called the Flower pool, surrounded by fragrant jasmine and mimosa and huge heaving hydrangea bushes. There are endless places to relax and enjoy the view.
Did you visit any neighbouring precincts or areas?
Lenno, which is where you take the boat to go to Villa Balbianello
is pretty cute - buy a gelato and wander the stylish shores.
The best resorts or spas?
The T Spa
at The Grand Hotel Tremezzo
is incredible. It has a huge infinity pool (the third on the property). You swim through a tunnel to this secret hydrotherapy section at the back with all these amazing jets, a waterfall and ‘bubble bed’ to massage away your tension. There's an outdoor jacuzzi ('yah-cootsie' as the Italians say) where you can take in the magnificent lake and Alps beyond it. It's magical and would be beautiful in winter too as it's heated to 30 degrees.
Your insider tips on what to do when in this location?
All of the above! We also hired the hotel’s boat – a gorgeous 1960’s mahogany-paneled Venetian lancia with its own skipper. He allowed us to drive and we explored all the inlets and coves before heading to Bellagio
for lunch. It was a very retro fabulous James Bond-esque experience. You can find Sigourney on Instagram @sigourneycantelo