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An Emotional Return: Lunch at Villa D’Este

Have you ever been so truly moved by a place that when you return you feel chills going down your spine? Well that’s how I felt about Villa D’Este

Mr S and I had stopped that for lunch around four years ago and we decided to make a return there enroute to our final stop, Grand Hotel Tremezzo. As we drove into the hotel and entered the foyer, I felt tears sting my eyes, a lump in my throat and my heart started to pound. You see returning to these places isn’t all about the physical beauty of the place or the luxury of the hotel, it’s those exquisite memories that they evoke, of a perfect day spent with someone that you love.
Along with Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Villa D’Este is one of the most luxurious hotels in Lake Como and is world renowned for its glamour, elegance and beauty. Located quite literally right on the lake, Villa D’Este is inextricably linked with the history of Como. Built in 1568 as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, the hotel is surrounded by 25 acres of beautiful gardens all of which have been beautifully kept for years. 
The design of the garden actually dates all the way back to the Renaissance the most famous part being the 16th Century mosaic with its Nympheum.
As time went by the property saw visits from many aristocrats, an Empress and the English queen and it was in 1873 that it became a luxury hotel. Nowadays it’s a favourite George Clooney and Amal, who are locals but it’s seen the pinnacle of Hollywood glamour pass through the doors and David Bowie and Iman celebrated the wedding here in 1992.
The hotel is known for its incredible pool, floating right on the lake a setting so glamorous it like something out of movie. Seriously you can’t help but be moved by such a place!   
The first time that we visited, we had our lunch out here on the terrace – the perfect place for a view of that gorgeously romantic lake and watching the most elegant people-watching ever!! George prefers this more informal Grill area apparently!! But with rather moody skies today, we would be having lunch inside.

Inside is utterly elegant too, grand marble staircases, the very finest chandeliers and huge pillars set the perfect scene for all the illustrious people who have entered this incredible place. Walking through the doors is like going back time to another world – a place that time forgot. There are 152 rooms here at Villa D’Este, each is different and continuous renovation means that they look fresh but still maintain their classic charm. You may be wondering why didn’t stay here as I love it so much…well I chose Hotel Grand Tremezzo as I felt the rooms there were more modern and we had the option of the rooftop hot tub. 
Though the Veranda restaurant is inside, the glass conservatory location means that views of the lake are still inescapable and the beautiful dining room provides the perfect backdrop for a special anniversary lunch.
Everything about lunch at the Veranda just screams old world charm and glamour. From the beautiful glass ware to the charming and friendly service – you cannot help but be a little moved by the wonderful ceremony of it. It’s pretty formal and in the evenings men need to wear jacket and tie which is why George prefers The Grill.

Veranda has a Michelin-star but you don’t need to worry about getting small portions of fancy food. Everything is elegant but packed with flavour with good portion sizes. My S absolutely loved his seafood soup brimming with prawns, mussels and scallops…and of course I stole a fair amount of it from his bowl.

My sea bass carpaccio was actually on their low calorie menu and had a delicious drizzle of olive oil and citrus bursts from the orange garnish. 
One of my most vivid memories of visiting Villa D’Este the first time was ordering a whole sea bass to share. I think there’s something so special about reliving past experiences so I insisted on ordering it again even though Mr S really wanted veal Milanese. Fortunately he wasn’t disappointed by our beautifully cooked fish served with a light oil, tomatoes, olives and thinly cut potatoes. 
If/when I return to Villa D’Este in ten years time I’ll be having the same thing again for sure!
Ok, so my eyes are showing the signs of a few glasses of wine but you could see how happy I was being in this incredible place and so well looked after by the amazing staff.   
Don’t leave Villa D’Este without dessert, I suggest homemade ice cream and Creme Brulee. Of course, my heart felt heavy with the knowledge that we soon had to leave, we had a car waiting for us and it looked like the weather was about to take a turn for the worse.

Soon it was back in the car bound for our home for the next three nights, the glorious Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

Have you ever fallen in love with place? Have you revisited a place so meaningful that it’s evoked an emotional reaction.


Villa D’Este
Via Regina, 40
22012 Cernobbio