Spending 48 hours on Lake Como has to be the world’s best and worst 48 hours. The best because you are in paradise- the worst because you are being shown paradise and then being ripped from its arms all too soon. Get where I’m going here? So, with only 48 hours in paradise how do you decide what to do? Well, when it comes to Lake Como, I have three places you absolutely must visit no matter what. I’m assuming you’ve already sorted out that you’re staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. If you read FFG regularly, I think you’ve received the message loud and clear that there’s no where else to stay at present. This is THE PLACE. Now let’s kick into the must-dos on Lake Como while there. You have two days – here’s what you have to see and do.
1. Eat lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
This place has been serving the same exact lunch, every day, 365 days a year since 1947. Yes, lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina may not come with many surprises on the menu, but it is definitely a place that is full of surprises when it comes to guests you may find sitting next to you on a daily basis. Owner, Benvenuto Puricellli, has played host to some big players on this island restaurant. George Clooney, apparently, names this as his favourite place to eat while in Lake Como. Of course he’s been joined by the whole Ocean’s Eleven cast. How do I know? There is a photo wall documenting the celebs that have dined here before us. There’s even a picture of a very happy Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Yeah, yeah, the celebs are all great, but the food is where the adventure starts and begins. This is classic Italian food at its finest and you’ll start to wonder what will give in first – the button on your pants or your stomach’s ability to keep consuming! Oh, and I don’t want to give the big surprise away, but please make sure you stay until the main man gives his “coffee performance.” There is no actual way to describe what you will see or taste at this main event.
Note: You need to arrange for a boat to take you to the island for lunch. This can usually be done through the concierge of your hotel.
2. Pay a visit to Villa del Balbianello
Ever seen Star Wars Episode II? How about Casino Royale? If so, you’ll easily recognize this villa as both films feature the beautiful grounds of the Villa del Balbianello. And yes, it’s everything you’d expect it to be in the flesh – magical, magnificent, like something from a fairytale. Nope, I’m not going overboard. It’s that fantastic. Apparently they do weddings here. Don’t even want to think of the cost! To take you mind off the party pounds to be spent, make sure you book a private tour of the house and library while on location at the villa – if only to discover the incredible stories of the last owner, who was one of the world’s great explorers. But, for the most part you’ll find yourself snapping away like a camera hungry fool. Every single turn is another photo-op. Don’t worry – no one will judge you for the numerous selfies you’ll find yourself taking. Everyone’s in the same boat. Paradise is definitely worth documenting. No one would believe you were actually in such an idyllic setting otherwise, right?
Note: Again, you will need private transport to reach this location – and again, probably best to do through a concierge.
3. Take the water taxi over to Bellagio for a day of wandering
Bellagio is a just a hop, skip and a jump (otherwise known as the water taxi) from most places on Lake Como. Whatever the time it takes you to get there, this is definitely a small Lake Como town worth touring. Charming shops, cobblestone streets and dozens of dining options await you upon your arrival. Take time to walk – as you’ll want to take everything in by foot. This is not a town that requires any other transport. You’ll want to move slowly and take everything in with each and every footstep in Bellagio. Stop for coffee, pop into shops for some great Italian buys (silk scarves, leather bags, penis shaped pasta – ok, that’s not classic, but my gosh was it everywhere) and take every chance you get to say Grazia. I find I’m thanking the people around me not just for their sincerity in wanting to make my experience a better one, but just for playing a part in keeping such a magnificent part of the world alive and working. Oh, Lake Como, you are a chocolate covered treat. I will never, ever, tire of your beauty.