“On the shores of Italy’s Lake Como history is rich with romance, drama and secrets”–Paul Ebeling
“Lake Como scaled like the iridescent tail of a big fish. It glints and glimmers under the Sun, dark bluish emerald at bright midday, silver come aperitivo hour. Opulent and storied with an aristocratic past, the Lake has been the jewel of Northern Italy for centuries”
The region is meant to be experienced by water. Hundreds of yrs ago, these great waterways carried lords and ladies to and from each other’s shoreline villas. You pass clusters of colorful homes along the coast from the little ferry, pull into Como, which is the very heart of activity. Making your way toward the old quarter, into the little stone streets dotted with silk boutiques and bars, you can reward yourself with a dark-chocolate gelato, bittersweet and decadent.
The next day hike to Villa Pliniana the oldest villa on the lake. In Y 1573, the Governor of Como, Count Giovanni Anguissola, bought the land and began construction. He had murdered the Pope’s illegitimate son, the cruel and ruthless Pier Luigi Farnese, stabbing him to death. Loved by the citizens of Como, the Governor lived out the rest of his days in relative peace at this villa-fortress, unreachable by land due to the extreme topography surrounding it.
Later guests of the villa included the likes of Napoleon, Byron, Shelley, and Prince Emilio Barbiano Belgiojoso and the beautiful French noblewoman Anne Berthier de Wagram. In Y 1843 they fled from Paris to Pliniana, Anne leaving behind her husband and child, to live together in total isolation for 9 yrs within the villa.
Secret: At Midnight, the lovers would wrap themselves naked together in a bed sheet and dive from the top of the loggia into the lake, so the story goes. The terrified villagers across the water thought they were a ghost.
In the former Villa Roccabruna once resided the great opera singer Giuditta Pasta, a famed soprano of her time. Across the water, composer Vincenzo Bellini heard her singing and searched all around the lake to find her voice. She became his muse and greatest inspiration. In Y 1831, Bellini would compose his most significant works for Pasta, “Norma” and “La Sonnambula” which she’d perform to great acclaim at La Scala in Milan. The composer wrote “Norma’s” opening act, the stunning “Casta Diva,” to highlight the immense range and beauty of her voice.
I wonder what Giuditta Pasta might have had for dinner there. I wonder if she often dined with Vincenzo Bellini between rehearsals. I wonder if he was very handsome in person. Upon meeting him for the first time in Y 1835, a jealous poet had remarked, “You are a genius, Bellini, but you will pay for your great gift with a premature death. All the great geniuses die young, like Raphael and like Mozart.” Bellini died at 33 anni.
The Big Q: How to get there?
The Big A: La Compagnie, the boutique hotel experience of airline carriers, La Compagnie!
La Compagnie is a business-class-only plane, its main route going between New York and Paris. The carrier recently released a new route between New York and Milan, offering a perfect portal to Northern Italy.
Because of its small size, check-in is without wait. The actual getting onto the plane part is unhurried and seamless. The in-flight experience is equally calming. Lie-flat beds and weighty quilted blankets create the perfect environment for rest. Menu options feel premium and the media setup is a delight. Think big screens and a lovely selection of films with US and French titles.
Enjoy your Summer travels, Keep the Faith!