Given the speed at which the cars zip by on the winding road around Lake Como, you are likely to miss Villa Pliniana’s unmarked gates. However, once you head down the steep paved driveway, you are greeted by expansive views of Lake Como—and you know you have reached a special place.
Villa Pliniana is built upon the ‘Pliniana’ spring, a narrow creak of fresh water that runs from the Colorée Valley all the way into Lake Como. The water has been referenced in works of literature dating back to the first century A.D. and has drawn many distinguished scientists over the years, including Leonardo Da Vinci and Benedetto Giovio. But it was Count Giovanni Anguissola, the governor of Como, who built Villa Pliniana in 1573 as a way of designating the spring and its surrounding area as a destination in itself. In the years that followed, the villa bore witness to great displays of riches and grandeur: it was visited by famous poets (Percy Shelley), musicians (Gioacchino Rossini, Liszt and Bellini), writers (Byron, Foscolo, Berchet, Stendhal) and monarchs (Joseph II of Austria and Margerita of Savoy), and it is said that Napoleon played billiards on the table that is still in the villa today.
Located on the western branch of Lake Como opposite Villa d’Este and Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Villa Pliniana lies on its own quiet cove with no neighbors in sight. The spring still runs through the villa and into the lake; as a result, this area’s water is some of the cleanest in the lake.
The villa is centered around an open-air courtyard that offers beautiful views of the water—the focal point of the property—which is utterly breathtaking at any time of day. With a total of seven large, apartment-style suites, the villa mixes its traditional Italian roots with contemporary furniture and sleek accents, especially in its public spaces that include two drawing rooms, a billiard room, dining room, kitchen and meeting room. There is also an open-air indoor pool, dock and renovated riva boat available to guests. Breakfast is served on the terrace, where the view of the lake is framed by the villa’s 16th-century arches.
Nearby, the sleepy towns of Molina and Torno (to name a few) are home to charming family-run trattorias such as Antica Hosteria Molina (Via S Antonio, 2; (39) 031 337 0199). There, you sit in a quiet church square while your 18-year old waiter serves course after course of fresh, homemade dishes made by his mother, the chef.
Available for full takeover only, Villa Pliniana is managed by Sereno Hotels of Le Sereno in St. Barth’s and Il Sereno, also on Lake Como. Il Sereno opened in August 2016 around the bend from Villa Pliniana, and villa guests have full access to the hotel’s facilities. villapliniana.com
Related: Five Days in Lake Como
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