Tom wants nothing to do with this blog entry – an unworthy topic, he feels, a yawn at that. But the readers, especially the girls, have been begging. Can I find him? Did I see him? Is there a new girlfriend? Ever since George Clooney bought Villa Oleandra, the former Heinz mansion, in 2002 for $10 million, his name has been synonymous with Lake Como.
Remember those “Can You Spot the Difference” features in the back of comic books? There would be two pictures, with eight or ten tiny differences (really: a horse with three legs?) and you were challenged to find the differences. The answer was invariably printed upside-down at the bottom. Remember those?
It’s easy to get envious around Lake Como, where tony tourists wander around buying diamonds, dining on $25 plates of pasta, and then retire to $900 hotel rooms. Many of these hotels are set in old villas built in the 1800s on the shores of the lake, most of which are still inhabited by the likes of Giorgio Armani and Giorgio Clooney, plus various obscure zillionaires. In an effort to get up close and personal with the enviable lifestyles of the rich and famous, yesterday we took the Midlake Boat Tour. For fifteen euros, we could hop on and hop off at six towns in the area.
Our journey from Venice to Bellagio was uneventful until we boarded the train from Milan to Como. (The entire journey is described here.) Reading our Italian tickets as best we could, we determined we had 45 minutes to get from the Milan train to the Como train, in the same station. Couldn’t be too hard. But an aggressive porter snatched our bags as soon as the train arrived in Milan and ran off (bags in tow) when we showed him our tickets. There wasn’t much for us to do but chase after him.
It was 2002, I believe. Ten years ago. Traveling alone in Italy with five days to spare, I pointed the rental car north and discovered, unwittingly, Lake Como. George Clooney hadn’t purchased Villa Oleandra yet (that came a few months later). They say the lake changed after Clooney’s arrival. I hope it hasn’t changed much, because we’ve just rented an August apartment there.