Lake Como

After the sexy excess­es of Milan, where could I go but up? Lake Como is the shim­mer­ing jew­el of the Ital­ian lakes dis­trict, and the Swiss Alps rise majes­ti­cal­ly on the hori­zon, like Clau­dia Car­di­nale reclin­ing in a blue satin dress. If Milan is where the rich peo­ple work, in Como they play. And they’ve brought some inter­est­ing friends along the way. Win­ston Churchill, Michael Jack­son, Brit­ney Spears and George Lucas do not often get men­tioned in the same sen­tence. Which is a sur­prise, real­ly, since they have all at one time lived on Lago di Como, along with a list of fel­low celebri­ties too long to recall.

Como’s favourite adopt­ed son is, how­ev­er, a cer­tain Mr. George Clooney. Vis­it Bel­la­gio, the posh­est town on the lake, and every­thing has been Clooney­fied, with most bars claim­ing him as their num­ber one cus­tomer. Which either makes them all liars, or Clooney a heavy drinker. One bar had even framed Clooney’s offi­cial let­ter of apol­o­gy to Bel­la­gio because of all the addi­tion­al inter­est he had brought to the area, par­tic­u­lar­ly when he invit­ed Matt Damon and his pals to stay dur­ing the film­ing of Ocean’s Twelve. As if there was any addi­tion­al inter­est Matt Damon could add to one of the most beau­ti­ful lakes in the world…

I didn’t see a sin­gle celebri­ty in Bel­la­gio, but I did love Como. Despite its posh “I think I spot­ted Natal­ie Port­man” rep­u­ta­tion, it still retains (in Como Town itself) a cheer­ful stu­dent crowd, that remind­ed me more of home than any place I had been in a while, and when the weath­er was fine, the lake daz­zled like … oh, did I men­tion Clau­dia Cardinale?