Italy | December 11, 2017
Aspire editor Hollie-Rae Brader heads to Lake Como – playground to the likes of George Clooney, Donatella Versace and Madonna – to see why this part of Italy is such a gem
“A few days here and you’ll feel like a movie star,” says my driver as we begin the short 30-minute journey from Malpensa airport to Lake Como.
I laugh. Having just got off a red-eye flight from Heathrow, I certainly wasn’t starting my trip embodying a celebrity.
As we make our way north, the chaos of the motorway gives way to quieter roads. We drive through the quaint town of Como, which lies at the southern tip of the lake and is just mso-bidi-font-family:a 10-minute drive from my home for my long weekend – the historic house-turned-hotel CastaDiva Resort & Spa.
I sit gawping out of the window at the beautiful vistas around me: on one side, the deep-blue waters of the lake and the alpine forests that cover the mountains above; on the other, beautiful Italian villas and homes.
My driver takes a left turn and descends down a thin, winding pathway, which eventually leads to the grand entrance of this 19th-century property. If arriving by car isn’t glam enough for you, there’s also a dock for water-taxi arrivals.
Once the residence of opera singer and muse Giuditta Pasta, CastaDiva is one of the lake’s grande dame hotels, with character by the bucket-load and the most awe-inspiring views across the lake.
It’s also perfectly located – a stroll away from the adorable village of Blevio and a short distance from the towns of Como and Bellagio. The property offers a complimentary shuttle service to Como and also offers boat excursions up the coast to Bellagio, for ¤85 per person.
At the heart of the 75-room property is Villa Roccabruna, the original home of the soprano, but there are also numerous newer buildings and villas on the site, all named after female opera singers. Most have terraces or private gardens overlooking the lake. When it comes to the decor, think old-school Italian glamour and don’t be surprised if most things in your bathroom are golden...
Nearly all guests head straight for the lake – that is, the pool floating on top of it. Providing a multitude of Instagram opportunities, CastaDiva is one of onlymso-bidi-font-family: a handful of hotels with this facility.
This isn’t the only wow factor at this property: the 14,000sq ft spa is something to behold. The wellness centre is an enclave of serenity and boasts an indoor heated pool with Jacuzzi, chromotherapy showers, an ice cascade, Finnish sauna and aromatherapy showers – which are known on site as ‘emotional showers’.
These emotional showering experiences were the talk of my fellow guests, as the variety of scents, combined with different levels of water intensity, are enough to relax anyone. After a visit to the spa, head to the relaxation room where you’ll find chaise longues in a glass-bottomed room over the 19th-century dock.
The hotel has just one main restaurant, The Orangerie, but the bar also serves snacks at lunch and pizzas after dark. The Orangerie is perfect for breakfast and dinner, and has lots of outdoor seating and panoramic views of the lake. The evening menu might be a little outlandish for some, with dishes such as chocolate-covered foie gras on the menu. Of course, it’s well worth venturing farther afield to sample true Italian cuisine in the sweetest of locations.
There’s no doubt that a trip to CastaDiva will bring out your inner diva, and you’ll leave Italy’s most luxurious lake feeling like a complete and utter glamour-puss.