Welcome to our new series, in which we invite travel experts to imagine vacation itineraries for famous people—real and fictional, alive and dead.
In our first installment, Italy expert Andrea Grisdale—CEO of the travel agency IC Bellagio and recognized by Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler as one of the world’s top travel specialists—masterminds the perfect Italian escape for George Clooney and his wife Amal.
Want to enjoy the Italian Lake District like a star couple? Here’s some inspiration.
Arrival and Lunch
After being greeted planeside (of course) and escorted through immigration, a private car will whisk the Clooneys to Lake Como, stopping along the way for lunch at l’Orangerie at Casta Diva resort. Grisdale says the restaurant is known for “cuisine that extols the magnificence of Italian traditions and products.”
Check-In at the Palazzo del Vice Re
The fishing village of Lezzeno—just a few minutes from the famed lakeside town of Bellagio—is home to Palazzo del Vice Re, a “lovingly restored aristocratic palace that has been transformed into a unique boutique property,” and invites guests, upon check-in, to “start living Lake Como’s special brand of la dolce vita.” The couple will stay in the Palazzo’s loft apartment, L’Onda, which features an open-plan living area and Jacuzzi with a view of the lake.
An Evening In
Before dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Clooney are invited to the hotel’s stone cellar for a guided tour of some of the region’s best wine along with locally produced cured meats, salami, olives, and cheese. The hotel’s private chef will then prepare a special dinner in the apartment.
Related: 10 Amazing Wine Towns in Europe
Tour of the Lake by Boat
Grisdale insists that a private tour by boat is the “best introduction to Lake Como and its beautiful villas, gardens, town, and villages.” From the lake, “we will pass Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo, Bolvedro, Mezzegra, Lenno, and then across to the Villa Balbianello,” where the couple will disembark and tour the villa and gardens before reboarding and going to the Isola Comacina for lunch.
Related: 10 Secret Places in Italy
Walking Tour of Bellagio
A local expert guide will take the couple on a walking tour of the world-famous town of Bellagio, exploring “its most scenic and interesting corners, including the main historical center, the Basilica of San Giacomo, the lakeside promenade, the Villa Melzi gardens, as well as the hamlets of Loppia, Taronico, and Pescallo.”
Pizza Lesson with a Local Pizzaiolo
Mr. and Mrs. Clooney will step behind the marble worktop and learn the secrets of Italian pizza with a local pizzaiolo (pizza chef). Grisdale says, “get the tricks of the trade straight from the pizzaiolo as he goes about preparing some of the best pizzas in Bellagio.” A relaxed pizza lunch follows the lesson at this popular local restaurant.
Dinner at Crotto del Misto
Grisdale calls Crotto del Misto “one of the most well-known fish restaurants on the lake,” and says its reputation for traditional fresh fish dishes and fine Italian wines is well-deserved. She also notes that the restaurant’s wine cellars, built in the 1700s, can be visited upon request.
Related: World’s Most Outrageous Pizzas
Morning Photo Walk
Everyone can use a little help taking the perfect vacation photographs. Today, Grisdale has arranged a photography guide to show the Clooneys the hidden charms of Lezzeno. Together, they will “venture out on the ancient network of mule tracks known as Strada Regia,” to nearby hamlets, stroll lakeside paths and parks where fisherman and sailors go to relax, and wander through local orchards and forests before returning to review the day’s photos over an apertivo.
Afternoon Exploration of Lezzeno
Grisdale has made sure the couple have time for an afternoon discovering the village of Lezzeno, with its “fantastic lake views, overlooking Lake Como’s only island, Isola Comacina, and the promontory that is home to the stunning 18th century Villa del Balbianello.”
Dinner at Alle Darsene di Loppia
Located just outside the gates of the Villa Melzi Gardens in Bellagio, Grisdale has chosen the osteria-style Alle Darsene di Loppia restaurant for the Clooneys. Settling into “outdoor seating overlooking the small harbor and the characteristic sail boats,” they’ll be treated to a menu with a “very special touch thanks to the masterful hands and magic of the young head chef Matteo Gramatica.”
Related: Italy’s Isola Bella
Helicopter Ride Over Lombardy
George and Amal will kick off their last day of vacation with a private helicopter tour of the Lakes region, admiring Lake Como as well as “the wonderful Lake Maggiore area, not to mention Lake Lugano and the Verbania region,” taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in Italy from the air.
Farewell Dinner at Villa d’Este
For the final evening out, Grisdale recommends a relaxed cruise from Lezzeno to Cernobbio and the Villa d’Este. The hotel—which has been named one of the world’s best by Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Forbes Traveler—is known for its “beautiful gardens, exquisite cuisine, impeccable decor, and extraordinary hospitality.” The hotel’s formal and elegant Veranda restaurant earns high praise for its traditional Italian haute cuisine.
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(Photo: Thinkstock/Andy Sotiriou)
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