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Villa D’Este – It’s Not fair!
September 7, 2011
When I went to Italy, my friends and family all said, “It’s not fair!” Why should I get to go to one of the most beautiful places in the world? I answered, “Because God likes me.” As evidence of my favor in the Lord’s eyes, I was able to experience the joy that is Heaven on Earth, Villa D’Este in Lake Como.
This stunning property is consistently voted as one of the best hotels in the world by every travel mag in the industry. It deserves it… It’s about an hour away from Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) by car. Located on an ideal spot, sitting across the lake from Villa D’Este sits the equally picturesque town of Bellagio.
The property feels large. Mind you, it’s not the number of rooms that make it so, it’s the gardens. The 25 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens range from Baroque, Romantic, Renaissance, Picturesque – I don’t even like gardens and I was in awe of this place! The Mosaic, or The Nymphaeum, was one of my favorite sights. Whether you’re looking at it from afar or right on top of it, the eyes can barely take in its total beauty. The sculpture of Hercules and Lica was stunning, as well, since I was a Greek Mythology geek. But, when you stand far enough back to see them together, you get a humbling appreciation for them both. But, my favorite factoid about the property itself was the fact that the ruins that sit behind the property were built by a previous owner for one purpose – battle! He posted cannons in the cliffs behind the property and the ruins were used just to do battle with the French. He just felt like it…You may still walk through the ruins to this day, hiking through history.
To talk about the rooms, though, is a delight. The property has four villas, two of which are private, Villa Malakoff and Villa Cima. These two villas are private, exclusive, and geared for your high-end traveler. Want to visit George Clooney? Stay in one of these! Otherwise, the other two villas are the Cardinal building (the original villa) and the Queen’s Pavillion (added in 1860) – between the two villas, you’re looking at 152 rooms. In slow season, the Queen’s Pavillion is closed and all guests are put in the Cardinal’s Building. The hotel’s lobby, restaurants, and rooms all are beautifully appointed without feeling too opulent. The property is elegant and classy – If you were to go on a date with Villa D’Este, you’d take Villa D’Este somewhere nice!
The rooms and suites are decorated with period furniture, but each is unique in size and décor! Reds balanced by golds, the blues bounce off cream walls, and period chandeliers and lamps illuminate each unit’s flawless details. If you can, stay in a suite. The views off of some their balconies, be it full or Juliet, are of the lake. While I cannot do justice to the moon as it shone down on Lake Como, know that the vision will stay with you as much as it did me.
While at Villa D’Este, we dined at Veranda for dinner. I’m fairly certain that my soul left my body at one point during the meal. The restaurant, as is common in five star hotels in Europe, requires a jacket and tie in the evenings. The restaurant has glass windows which can disappear to have the restaurant be al fresco in the summer! But, these paltry details are nothing in comparison to the feast! You have not lived until you’ve had the black truffle risotto from their kitchen. I’ve never thought to define food as supple…this risotto was supple. It moved on the plate and spoon like it belonged there. Perfectly textured and the truffle was nuanced so that it didn’t overpower the palate. Dessert was a vanilla crème brûlée that was followed by a chocolate and pastry sampler. Every bite was a reminder of why I never wanted to leave.
But, I did have to leave Villa D’Este. The rest of my trip awaited me. Yes, I was blessed by God for being able to sight this hotel, sample its delicacies, and just to know it exists! But, having gone through all of that and then having to leave?
It’s not fair…