HOUSE ON THE LAKE

ON THE SITE OF A 15TH-CEN­TURY NUNS’ REFUGE, THE VILLA D’ESTE ON LAKE COMO IS NOW A HAVEN FOR ROY­ALTY AND FILM STARS

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - W -

It’s easy to see why the great and the good flock to this lux­ury Ital­ian ho­tel on the shores of Lake Como ev­ery sum­mer. The Villa D’Este is a truly unique ho­tel: there is noth­ing else like it on Lake Como, or any­where else for that mat­ter. The history of the site dates from 1442 when a group of nuns seek­ing refuge from the civil war built a monastery here. In 1527 Car­di­nal Tolomeo Gal­lio de­mol­ished the nun­nery and com­mis­sioned the ar­chi­tect Pel­le­grino Pel­le­grini of Val­solda to de­sign a res­i­dence for his own use. The villa was pur­chased by Caro­line of Brunswick in 1815 and later trans­formed into a ho­tel in 1873. Lake Como was as fash­ion­able then as it is now; the ho­tel has at­tracted ev­ery­one from roy­alty to screen stars over its more than 500-year history and it con­tin­ues to do so. Rooms in the ho­tel’s two main build­ings are spa­cious and most have views of the lake, but a view of the gar­den is no less breath­tak­ing. In her 1905 book Ital­ian Vil­las and their Gar­dens, the Amer­i­can writer Edith Whar­ton de­scribed the gar­dens of the Villa D’Este as some of the most mag­i­f­i­cent in Italy. “The rich leafage of wal­nut, aca­cia and cy­press, the glimpses of the blue lake far be­low, the rush of a moun­tain tor­rent through a deep glen spanned by a ro­man­tic ivy-clad bridge, make this bosco of the Villa d’Este one of the most en­chant­ing bits of syl­van gar­den­ing in Italy,” she wrote. The 10-hectare gar­dens of the ho­tel of­fer ex­ten­sive walk­ing trails as well as ten­nis courts and a putting green (the ho­tel’s own golf course is 15km away). As well as the ho­tel’s fa­mous float­ing pool there’s also an in­door pool for the cooler months. De­spite its grandeur the Villa D’Este is still a re­lax­ing place to hol­i­day, but you need to dress for din­ner. Jacket and tie re­quired.

02 ME, ME, ME

Span­ish lux­ury ho­tel group Melia Ho­tels In­ter­na­tional has landed in Mi­lan, open­ing a Me by Melia in the heart of the city’s fash­ion and de­sign dis­trict. There are 100 rooms and 32 suites in the ho­tel, de­signed by the late ar­chi­tect Aldo Rossi, and in the for­mer site of the I’Ho­tel Duca di Mi­lano. The Me by Melia ho­tels are also known for their rooftop bars, with Lon­don’s Ra­dio Rooftop Bar one of the most pop­u­lar (and hard to get into to) bars in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal. The Mi­lan es­tab­lish­ment will also have its own rooftop bar (with an ex­clu­sive el­e­va­tor) as well as two con­tem­po­rary Ital­ian restau­rants. One of the top suites, Suite Me, has a 100sq m pri­vate ter­race for the best views of Mi­lan’s Pi­azza della Repub­blica.

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