I have quite the confession to make: I, a grown woman, just recently watched Star Wars for the first time. And Jurassic Park. And Blade Runner. And a whole slew of other classic movies. I apparently had a very sheltered childhood. (I still need to see the Indiana Jones series).
My husband sat me down last year and we watched the first Star Wars movies — as in, the originals — and I became an instant nerd. I loved them so much and caught onto the lingo really quickly and would drop Star Wars references — "These are not the droids you're looking for" — in casual conversation all the time (I may or may not have had many friends for a few weeks). And it took us a minute, but I just recently got around to finishing the newer episodes, and with the exception of Jar Jar, really loved them.
But, besides awesome space battles and overthrowing corrupt governments and the general badassery of Star Wars, what I was most obsessed with from the newer episodes was Anakin and Padmé's love villa, on the planet of Naboo. The place was gorgeous and supposed to seem otherworldly, except it's not. After some quick googling I realized that Naboo is actually Lake Como, Italy, just north of Milan and was only a three hour drive from where we live! Um, lake trip planning, engage.
How cool is it that you can watch a movie and be like, "I want to go to there," and then actually go there? It was an awesome thing to be able to do. A lot of movies have actually been shot on Lake Como, most notably the Bond movie Casino Royale, and recently, the John Legend music video for "All of Me." Tyler and I were prepared for one gorgeous, lake-tastic weekend.
I did pretty minimal research before going to Lake Como, besides my movie-watching, apparently. But sometimes it's nice to be able to just pick up and go. I knew I wanted to stay near Bellagio, which is apparently George Clooney's hang out, but less for George Clooney and more for just quaint, fancy livin'. And we knew we mostly just wanted to relax — which is kind of what the lake is for anyway. We ended up staying in Lezzeno, about 10 minutes away from Bellagio, and it ended up being a nice, hot spot to be in. Bellagio, Tremezzina and Varenna were some more lively towns and had the biggest ferry routes, so it was easy to get from place to place between them all and see the sights.
We had a great time riding the ferries on Lake Como, too — it was a really fun way to get around and also just a cheap way to get some amazing views of the lake. It would've been really nice to be able to rent a boat for the day, but we're newlyweds and prefer to spend out money on eatin' fancy and gas money, because that's about the only place our wallet stretches.
WHAT WE DID
- Pretending to be royalty at Villa del Balbianello: This location was the reason we came to Lake Como in the first place, and it did not disappoint. We didn't end up doing the villa tour (it's very small), but the gardens are gorgeous and we had such a wonderful time just strolling through them, pretending to be fancier than we are. Bring your camera, a fabulous dress and be Queen Amidala for the day. You can even get married there!
- Adventurous dining at Trattoria del Porto: We had one of the most unique dining experiences that we've had in all of Italy at this restaurant. It was highly recommended by our Airbnb and did not disappoint, though it was quite the adventure to get to — but that was kind of half the fun! The restaurant is in a very small town (with difficult parking, naturally), and you have to walk down about 300 steps through this adorable village to find the restaurant. Inside, there are about 5 or 6 tables, but it's so quaint and rustic and romantic, dining right there by the lake. There, we were served a six-course meal, which was, of course, regional, meaning a lot of delicious fish. We had a nice, long dinner, complete with cheese, dessert and plenty of wines, and after we finished, our very sweet waiter took us on a private tour of a church nearby, which was built in the early 11th century and was quite special. Tyler and I were over the moon at our dining experience – not just because of the food, but because of the care that was clearly put into the experience (even the long hike back up to our car with full bellies!), and it was the perfect romantic, regional meal for the night.
- Maxin' and relaxin' at our Airbnb in Lezzeno: I could not have been happier with our lodging for the week. We really wanted our stay at Lake Como to be very relaxing, and to just have a gorgeous view of the lake that we could eat breakfast and just stare at, and our place in Lezzeno did not disappoint. It was quiet and in such a cute little neighborhood, but was also just impeccably decorated, with great little mid-century design nods paired with the rustic Italian ceilings and touches. It was such a comfortable and quiet place to come back to after the day, and we actually just spent a lot of time relaxing there with the French doors open, reading and wasting time. Pictures of our view are at the end of this blog post — and if you're interested in staying in an Airbnb and haven't before, please feel free to use this $25/night off coupon!
- Lounging at Lido di Bellagio: Beaches are a bit hard to come by at Lake Como, sadly — which is kind of funny for a lake! Natural beaches were scarce in the area of the lake we were staying in, but they did have a few lidos, which are kind of like artificial beaches. I was set on relaxing out beside the lake with my book on our last day there (the weather was unbeatable!), so we ended up spending the afternoon at the ritzy-looking Lido di Bellagio, for not-so-ritzy prices. They have these fun white tents you can rent out (or just sunning beds, which is what we went with), plus a bar for drinks and snacks, if needed. At night, it gets a bit livelier, with music and DJing.
- Lakeside dining at Hotel Aurora in Lezzeno: One of the prettiest views we had during our stay was our last meal at Lake Como, which was at the Hotel Aurora. They have a gorgeous patio that overlooks the lake, and you can even catch the sunset there at night. I don't remember much about our meal, but we did have an excellent chocolate and pear cake with pistachio ice cream that I scarfed down without blinking an eye (or sharing enough with Tyler — sorry, Tyler). Make sure you make a reservation.
- Walking the streets of Bellagio: We spent the most of our time during the week in Bellagio, just exploring side streets and peeking into the wine shops. It's a really beautiful little town with a lot of nice cafes. It can get a bit touristy at times, but much less so than many other places we've been in Italy, and is worth it just to see – and maybe try to get a peek at Clooney.
- Riding the ferries: Definitely the cheapest and most scenic way to get around is to just hop a ferry. We'd park our car for the day and take the ferry across the lake to go sightseeing or just to have lunch and explore the different towns.