WE ARE RACING ALONG Lake Como in a luxury speedboat, surrounded by the Italian Alps while the sun shines down on us from above. We are in the midst of a day that has been flawlessly planned and executed by the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, a magnificent hotel in the beautiful town of Bellagio, just north of Milan, Italy.
Our first stop is Villa del Balbianello, which leaves us breathless with its sumptuous terraced gardens and beautifully designed interiors, and featured in movies like “Casino Royale” and “Star Wars.” Our excellent private tour guide teaches us about Guido Monzini, the former owner of the villa who also was the leader of the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest.
After touring the villa we head to Locanda dell’Isola Comacina for an unforgettable dining experience. We are served course after delicious course — the same courses served since 1947 — as we enjoy picturesque views of Lake Como. Towards the end of the afternoon the owner performs a delightful fire ceremony where he talks about the history of the island before warding off evil spirits.
Following our magical day, we return to the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, the perfect place to slow down and enjoy being pampered. The views are spectacular, the gardens are enchanting, and the villa itself is magical, but it is the people who make this hotel truly special; the staff is incredibly charming and attentive without ever being intrusive.
Our accommodations are luxurious – a breathtaking view of Lake Como and the Italian Alps, a newly renovated white marble bathroom, crisp linen bedding, and intricately carved furnishings. We look forward to breakfast every morning, served in the exquisite dining room. There is a plethora of choices, with hot and cold dishes and delicious bread and pastries that cater to all dietary needs.
The restaurants at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni cannot be missed, especially the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred Mistral. We cannot decide what is most impressive – the food, the view, the wine, or the service. The hotel's lavish spa offers every service imaginable, and I enjoy an expert massage on a wonderfully heated bed.
The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni was once a private villa, and its opulence is a reflection of the grandeur of the town of Bellagio, with its cobbled alleys, porticos, and rustic buildings hosting luxury restaurants, cafes, and shops. A visit to this beautiful town and hotel is the ultimate in rest, relaxation, and indulgence.
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, www.villaserbelloni.com