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Upon arriving at Grand Hotel Tremezzo, I knew it was going to be difficult to leave—ever. This truly grand hotel majestically looks out over the lake, its orange awnings charmingly beckoning from a distance. The property is a world unto itself with several restaurants— ranging from informal to very formal—two outdoor pools (one of which floats upon Lake Como itself), a spa, a clay tennis court, hiking paths and a 20,000 square-meter park with magnolias, tulips and hydrangeas, as well as a “dis-moi oui” corner devoted to the legions of hopefuls who bring their beloveds here to pop the question. As much effort as it took to pry myself away from this paradise, I was grateful for having done so once I encountered the water up close. As I sat waiting for a boat to ferry me across to Villa del Balbianello, thinking about the fairytale-like enchantment of the lake, a swan appeared, float-

ing tranquilly by on the water, as if to prove my point. Once I arrived at Balbianello, an incredible estate built in the 1700s that now hosts curious tourists eager to glimpse how the well-heeled Europeans of yesteryear spent their lavish summers. (Here, too, was where Star Wars: Episode 2—Attack of the Clones and the 2006 James Bond remake Casino Royale were shot.) Another inspiring villa that deserves an afternoon is Villa Carlotta. Right next door to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, the Villa’s extraordinary botanical garden alone, with its 500 types of plants and flowers, is worth the price of admission. My next boat ride allowed me a panoramic view of the surrounding towns lining this thirty-mile lake and made a stop at nearby Bellagio. This charming town is comprised of a series of steep cobblestone streets lined with shops—and shoppers—many of them selling the silk for which the Como region is known. Pierangelo Masciadri’s wonderful store, selling his personally designed silk ties, scarves and purses, has been popular among

visitors ever since Bill Clinton wore a Masciadri-designed tie in 1992. (Bill Gates, George W. Bush and Sandra Day O’Connor— wearing one his ‘scarf-ponchos’—soon followed suit.) Once I’d seen the sights of Como, I did what people do best here: I lounged. By night, however, I discovered an excellent variety of restaurants. On the first evening, I found the delicious and refreshingly informal Pizzeria Balognett owned by a lovely husband-and-wife team. I sat outside on their terrace—near the vegetable garden from which they get their ingredients—with vines and wild flowers twisting up the side. And, on my last night, I took myself out to Al Veluu, a romantic restaurant where it seemed everyone was on their honeymoon but me—although I was having a love affair of my own with the view from the outdoor terrace where I was seated. So as couples all around me tapped their glasses of Prosecco in a toast to their forever promise of love, I lifted my own glass to the green mountains and blue water spread before me in its own forever promise of tranquility. KER & DOW NEY

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QUEST Magazine Issue 3  

Explore France, Italy, China, Maldives and some of the best places to travel this summer in Ker & Downey's Summer issue of QUEST magazine.