Summer Italian Getaway: The Lavish Villa Pliniana on Lake Como

Considering we’ve spent sixteen months virtually unable to spend any real time with family or friends, it would seem that, even with most European travel restrictions having been lifted, zipping off to Paris or Milan would take a backseat to just getting on a plane or train that takes us straight to the cosseting embrace of those we love the most. Yet at the same time, being cut off from our beloved Europa for such a long period (right, right – First World problems) makes it arguably hard to resist hastily booking that next flight across the Atlantic.

A reasonable compromise might be, then, to herd our beloveds to, say, glorious Italia for a group Agriturismo getaway, and celebrate having survived it all by spending a week eating and drinking the way Italians do, be it in Tuscany or Umbria or Campania… Of course, Lake Como always beckons in summer, especially if you’re keen for a bit of movie star spotting with your bellissimo lago views. And if you’re feeling particularly flush, there’s an impossibly plush new property just opened along its shoreline, that will quickly make you forget you’ve been staring at the same four walls for the last year.

Indeed, La Pliniana – whose name refers to the natural spring it was originally built around, with an etymology tracing back to the exalted Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder – is a lavish 16th Century Palazzo, first constructed by Count Giovanni Anguissola, governor of Como at the time. Its guest list reads like a who’s who of four centuries of European cultural history: Percy Bysshe Shelley (“This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty.”), Gioacchino Rossini (he composed Tancredi here), Byron, Stendahl, Liszt, Bellini and, we swear…Napoleon himself. It’s now been reimagined by the owners of the nearby ll Sereno Lago di Como hotel.

Meant to be rented by a single entity – a posh weekend getaway with 20 of your best friends, or perhaps your wedding to a descendent of the Habsburgs – it now boasts four suites and fourteen individual villas, frescoed and very high coffered-ceilinged common areas, billiard and dining rooms, a private dock and helipad, spa with infinity pool, and gardens set on 18 lakeside acres. A penthouse house suite will also be shoppable, with custom designed furnishings by celebrity Spanish architect/designer Patricia Urquiola. Five star service comes by way of Il Sereno, with its Michelin-starred Berton Al Lago restaurant and state-of-the-art wine cellar.

Most significantly, everywhere one looks, is the most breathtaking view one might ever hope to behold.

Really, the only real downside to this place is, of course, that you’ll eventually have to leave. But La Pliniana does seem like just the sort of splurge we deserve after more than a year of isolation, fear and uncertainty. And if it was good enough for Napoleon, well…who are we to argue?

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