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Lago di Como, Italy
web: villadeste.it
email: reservations@villadeste.it

By Bobbi P. Markowitz, Founder and Publisher

About Lake Como // Located in the Lombardy region of Northwest Italy, idyllicly peaceful Lake Como sits amidst jewel-like picturesque towns at the base of the Alps.The wishbone shaped lake includes its namesake town of Como, known for its silk manufacturing, Cernobbio, the favorite resort of the exiled Queen Caroline, Menaggio, Varenna, Bellagio, resorts famous for their lakeside promenades, cafes and restaurants, and Lecco, home to the 19th-century novelist, Manzoni.

About Villa d'Este // From the beginning of March until mid-November, Villa d'Este opens its gracious doors to welcome a luminary guest list that includes heads of states, world renown celebrities and visitors who appreciate quietude in a refined setting. Exuding a long tradition of romantic classical elegance, the Villa d'Este, in Cernobbio, is situated in a magnificent park amidst pristinely created floral gardens, terraces, fountains and fortresses, overlooking the blue-green waters of exquisite Lake Como.

Built in 1568 as a summer residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, Villa d'Este remained in the Gallio family for over two centuries. For many years to follow, the great aristocracy of Europe lived in the Villa. In 1815 it became a royal mansion, the property of Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales and wife of King George IV of England. In 1873, it was transformed into a luxury hotel that throughout time has developed a well earned reputation for ultimate service and hospitality amidst a lavishly splendid and palatial environment.

The Hotel // While having recently enjoyed grand restorations, the Villa d'Este is perpetually renovated in the off seasons when meticulous attention to detail is spent on maintaining an ambiance reminiscent of old world charm combined with modern amenities. Elegant decor appointments include sumptuous textile treatments, antique furnishings and art, all of which re-create the intimacy of a fine private home. Marble clad bathrooms, built-in partitioned wood paneled closets, cozy sitting rooms and lavishly draped windows provide an optimum environment for relaxation in the grandest style.

Guests may choose accommodations from 10 suites, 46 junior suites, 105 double rooms, 8 single rooms, 3 restaurants, 2 bars, 1 disco and nightclub, 4 rooms for receptions and banqueting, 9 meeting rooms. For business meetings, the Villa d'Este sets the perfect backdrop for a combination of business and pleasure. With Milan, one of the world's greatest industrial cities in close proximity, the Villa d'Este provides meeting space for seminars within an isolated, serene setting.

Things to do //

Outdoors: "floating" pool, 8 tennis courts, putting green, Villa park with formal Renaissance gardens, including 16th century mosaics and fortifications with outstanding views. Canoeing, wind surfing, individual or group tennis lessons, water skiing, sailing, motorboating, offer visitors many ways to wile away their time.

Indoors: pool complex, gym room, squash court, sauna and Turkish baths, electronic golf course. An underground passage leads directly from the first floor of the main building to the swimming pool and The Sporting Club and Spa. Golf: The Villa d'Este golf course is only 7 miles from the hotel and is considered one of the finest, most challenging ever constructed. Luxuriant woods along Lake of Montorfano set the backdrop for this attractive course. Casino of Campione on Lake Lugano is only half and hour from the hotel.

The Spa // The Villa d'Este Spa, located in the main building was inaugurated in April 1999. The sophisticated deeply tinted Venetian plaster walls offer a soothing and enveloping retreat. Six private cabins feature the most up to date hydrotherapeutic equipment. Guests may indulge in facial, body and beauty treatments which range from Hydro Aroma Therapy to Lymphodranage Massage. Cosmetic formulas are specifically created for the spa.

Places to see // Perhaps the best way to appreciate the beauty of the region is by boat. A short walk from the hotel on cobblestone streets, guests meander into the quaint town of Cernobbio, where local ferry service picks up passengers. A charming glass-covered Art Nouveau dock is the launch station . The boat ferries visitors side to side throughout the Lake, making stops at the unique towns along the way. Passengers are welcome to disembark, explore, have lunch, shop and return from their journey. Unforgettable vistas of the sweeping mountains, punctuated by ancient towns and villas are breathtakingly beautiful - a great way to spend a day!

What to buy // Villa d'Este is a shoppers paradise. Como is the world's premier manufacturer of quality silk products. The hotel offers boutiques brimming with a wide selection of Italian designer accessories from silk scarves and ties to cashmere sweaters and handbags. Two marvelous books, Villa d'Este Cookbook and Villa d'Este Style, written by Jean Govoni Salvadore offer history, recipes, and stunning photography of Villa d'Este.

Where to eat // Dining at Villa d'Este is both a gastronomic and visual delight. The formal Verandah dining room overlooks the lake, gardens and mosaic. Uninterupted expanses of glass, electronically disappear when weather allows for outdoor dining. Sumptuous cuisine spans the whole spectrum of Italy's great dishes. From the abundant brunch buffet, to luxurious lunch selections to elegant evening menus, Luciano Parolari, the executive chef of the Villa d'Este, oversees food service as he also runs Villa d'Este's internationally known cooking school. The front terrace, offers yet another breathtaking venue where guests may enjoy coffee, lunch or aperitifs. This setting is a favorite pastime with guests during the cocktail hour when they sit on the terrace overlooking the shores of the most romantic lake in the world waiting for the sun to set with the Alps glowing in the background. The Grill, with its informal decor lends a casual element to epicurean dining. The Sundeck Bar features light luncheons and the restaurant Kisho offers Japanese selections.

Off premises // The charming Giardino in Cernobbio, (Via Regina 73 ) just steps outside the entrance gates of Villa d'Este is a great spot for pizza lovers. Lively colored walls matched the enthusiastic crowd of jovial visitors.

Facts on File // When the villa was transformed into a hotel, celebrities from all over the world started visiting. European aristocracy included Prince Ranier of Monaco, King Leopold of Belgium, Beatrix Queen of Holland. Among the movie stars who've enjoyed holidays at Villa d'Este throughout the years are Clark Gable, Lauren Bacall, Liv Ullman, Robin Williams, Madonna and Sharon Stone to name a few. Because of it's extraordinary setting, the Villa d'Este is the favorite site for weddings and honeymoons. As it celebrates its 127th anniversary, some families claim four generations who have spent their honeymoon at the Villa. Among celebrities choosing the location, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and Nick Hilton, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Transportation // Villa d'Este can be reached by car or train in about one hour from Milan. An hour plane ride from Frankfurt, Paris, or Rome to the Milan airports of Malpensa and Linate. A few minutes away from the Swiss border, Villa d'Este is 30 minutes from Lugano.

By Bobbi P. Markowitz, Founder and Publisher

" The precise location of heaven on earth has never been established but it may very well be right here."

This declaration made by the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Herb Caen, just about says it all. Because of its majestic scenery, palatial ambiance, exceptional cuisine and gracious hospitality, the Villa d'Este is an experience of a lifetime. As the final destination of a hectic week of touring, Villa d'Este was the perfect culmination of our trip to Northern Italy's lake region. Like a sweet dessert, it left us completely satisfied and longing to return. Amidst the elegance of it all, an underlying warmth, extended by all hotel personnel we encountered truly added comfort and well being to the experience. Perhaps by nature of their long-standing reputation as a hostelry of high distinction, they've set the example for others to try to follow. In a world so dramatically changed since September 11, Villa d'Este offers visitors a chance to escape reality, to a purely blissful place, one where nature's finest is combined with extraordinary human kindness.


LOCATION: Cernobbio CO, Italy
ROOMS: 169
RESTAURANTS: 3 (+2 BARS & 1 disco)


+39 031 3481