August 6, 2008
Italy: part 6, Villa d'Este (finale)
I've been blogging about this trip for what seems like months now, and if it's dragging out for you too, I apologize. On the other hand, it has afforded me the opportunity to stretch out the life of this brief but wonderful little trip to Italy...
Our last stop was Lake Como and the historic, beautiful and exclusive Villa d'Este. What a remarkable place this was. I had only ever heard about its beauty and its opulence, its elegance and over-the-top luxury. In short, a place that needs to be seen to be believed.
It is one of the "Leading Hotels of the World" and its history since its incarnation as a hotel in the early 20th century after being home to a former queen of England and other Italian aristrocrats before that, is fascinating and its former guests some of the world's most famous actors and actresses, politicians, world leaders and wealthy elite.
We did not skip a beat in getting to know the stomping grounds of the rich and famous. My proletarian, humble lifestyle notwithstanding, I took to the life of a princess with little difficulty. The floating pool, the lakeside piano bar, the boxed fancy chocolates at bedtime and the extraordinary breakfast buffet, the artistic treasures, the Renaissance gardens designed by the architect Palladino Palladini, and the sixteenth-century villa itself... it was both more than anyone could imagine and everything I expected all at once.
We sat by the pool, gently rocking on the lake in our cushy blue chairs, soaking up the Italian sunshine; sipped campari and sodas on the veranda, and walked through the gardens admiring the view. We also took a drive along the winding road along the lake looking for George Clooney's house and then took the ferry across the lake to the town of Bellaggio (much prettier than Steve Wynn's version in Vegas by the way).
I took very few photos of the food while at the Villa d'Este. Maybe it was that the natural and man-made surroundings were overwhelming to the senses, leaving me with little more than the energy to enjoy eating and soak up the ambience. I do remember the whole-roasted branzino and the pesto pasta with baby green beans and potatoes. And I admired the top-notch hotel staff and their professionalism and immaculate attire.
I feel very lucky to have experienced a place like the Villa d'Este. It's not a place I am likely to return to unless I become rich and famous one day. But I don't really think I need to. It was a glimpse of a lifestyle and a place that can just as easily live on in my imagination as it did in the brief two days I was there. I was whisked away early the last morning of the trip to catch my flight in Milan, feeling as if I had just been in a dream, but a dream that I've been fortunate enough to live in for a while now.
*mille grazie to the Tiberti family for letting me in on their family vacation.
Arrivederci Italia. Until next time.