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Lake Como / Villa d'Este

Unabashedly grand, this 16th century quintessentially Italian summer residence dominates the 25 acres of gardens overlooking the clear waters of Lake Como.

Built in 1568 for the Cardinal of Como, and for centuries since a residence of the aristocracy, Villa d’Este remains true to its prestigious roots. When the new generation of royalty arrived from Hollywood – among them Alfred Hitchcock, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein – the impeccable, discreet service gave it home-from-home status among the stars.

Split between two properties, the Cardinal Building and the Queen’s Pavilion, rooms and suites bedecked in damask silks and antique heirlooms overlook the lake or the park. Summer mornings spent relishing the cool over an espresso are bookended by evenings on the terrace where the lilt of live music trickles through the air as sunset cocktails are served before dinner. The Sporting Club with its famous floating pool and tennis courts sit amid chestnut, birch and pine woods never far from the tantalising waters. You can play squash, head to the gym or seek out the discreet spa. Frankly though, you’d be forgiven for never doing any of those things and instead simply taking leisurely strolls around the waterfalls, mosaics and statues of its gardens.

Travel notes:

  • 152 rooms and suites; plus 3 19th century villas available for private gatherings
  • Surrounded by 25 acres of virtually traffic-free parkland and gardens
  • In summer, the pool floats on Lake Como on its own decking
  • 4 restaurants, plus dining options available just about anywhere on the estate
  • Criss-cross Lake Como with a private motorboat and skipper or in a seaplane

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When to visit Italy

Italy is a year round destination especially for city breaks, with a largely temperate climate with regional variations. Summers are hot especially from Rome southwards, whilst spring and autumn are mild. Winter in the south is warmer and drier than in the northern and central areas which can be much colder with snow fall in the mountainous regions.

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