SUMMER VILLAS 2019 EDITOR'S PICK
Smith Awards 2018 Villa Runner-Up

Lake Como, Italy

Grand Hotel Tremezzo Villa Sola Cabiati

Rates per night from$13,475.42

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR12,000.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

All-star aristocratic

Setting

Lakefront luxe

If home is where you hang your hat, then Napoleon would have no doubt felt very comfortable at Villa Sola Cabiati. The French leader’s chapeau is among the many antiques at this opulent, ochre-hued mansion on the shores of Lake Como. Built in the 1500s, it was the villa’s 18th-century Serbelloni dukes who acquired the diminutive leader’s cap, while entertaining the visiting emperor in Milan. During World World II, they carted it over to their summer residence on the Italian Lakes – along with the revolutionary’s bed and wife Josèphine’s clothes – where it remains in the attic, largely untouched. Indeed, it says something of the villa’s all-round grandness that these priceless artefacts aren’t on immediate display (except to lucky guests).

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

An hour-long boat tour of Lake Como with prosecco

First Glance

  • A set of sweeping wrought-iron gates signals the splendor to come at Villa Sola Cabiati. Ushering you in past park-size gardens, the perfectly symmetrical, neoclassical pile comes into view. Like an Italian take on the French millefeuille, it’s a triple-tiered flight of fancy, with layer upon decadent layer waiting within. We’re sure Napoleon would doff his cap as he hopped up the villa’s stone steps, past lake-blue shutters, to arrive at this elegant, ever-so-Italian party pad.
  • Ideal for a wedding or blow-the-budget birthday bash, rooms at Villa Sola Cabiati run from swirling marbled floors to Tiepolo-school frescoes, past sculpture-lined hallways and several centuries-worth of swag from local Lombard nobility. Built in the 1500s, the villa gained notoriety under the 18th-century Serbelloni dukes, who entertained Italian high-society here and also added a host of updates and extensions, including the two side wings.
  • You get formal access to the bottom two tiers of this neoclassical wedding-cake. The upper floor and attic are preserved as a series of ‘museum rooms’, including a rare collection of Stradivarius violins and Monsieur Bonaparte’s belongings, which were saved from the Serbelloni mansion in Milan during World War II bombings. These floors can be accessed for free on a pre-arranged tour with a member of the presiding Sola Cabiati family.
  • Less like living rooms and more like high-society halls, the three open-to-all parlour rooms on the piano nobile (first floor) feature stuccoed ceilings by Muzio Canzio and a splashing of antiques.
  • Butlers greet you in the central lobby, amid frescoes which tell the tale of Virgil’s Aeneid, gilded chandeliers and Marie Antoinette chairs, in a welcome that’s worthy of a duke and duchess.
  • A romantic, elaborately frescoed dining room with a rose-clad Murano chandelier, is where you’ll be wined and dined.
  • The fanciful drawing room with its dream-like blue and white shades, has a balcony that looks onto the lake and silk-upholstered couches – not exactly of the throw-your-feet-up variety, but worthy aperitivo pews.
  • A grand central staircase sweeps up to the secondo piano (second floor) and glass-fronted double doors point to the pool and formal gardens.

Villa highlights

  • Lake Como landmark
  • Elegant party pad
  • Historic heirlooms aplenty

Sleeping arrangements

  • Enlightenment poet (and tutor of the Serbelloni dukes) Giuseppe Parini, once called Villa Sola Cabiati ‘La Quiete’ (the Calm) – and it’s in the bedrooms that you really see why.
  • The ground-floor Suite Antonietta (30sq m) features dark-wood furniture, damask wallpaper, a sage-green armchair and soft-to-the-touch velvet headboard. The traditional ensuite, with its enveloping bath, is a real highlight.
  • Also on the ground floor, the Baroque-style Suite Gianvico (45sq m) has dark-wood doors and copper-coloured walls, hung with gilt-framed mirrors. Regal-looking red chairs sit in the corners and time-worn parquet floors add the final finish.
  • The gentle, golden hues of Suite Amalia (38sq m) on the second floor, blend with flower-flecked walls that immerse you in nature.
  • Two very similar rooms, Suite Andrea and Suite Alberica (both 30sq m), also take on a similar floral motif, with subtle hues and spring-like wallpaper. Parquet floors, antique armoires and historic paintings abound. One of them (Alberica) doesn’t have a wardrobe, so if you’ve come kitted for the Grand Tour, think again.
  • Rich and romantic, the russet-red Suite Nora (45sq m) is ideal for Smiths wanting to sequester themselves away.
  • Three of the rooms have ensuite bathrooms with bath tubs and showers (Andrea, Alberica and Nora); the others only have a bath (albeit of the freestanding, claw-footed and roll-topped variety).
  • All rooms can be set up as either a twin or a double, sleeping 12 in total.

Key kit

  • Private chef to prepare daily à la carte breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner
  • A 24-hour butler service
  • Flatscreen TVs with Sky and Apple TV
  • Free WiFi throughout
  • Wireless sound system
  • Air-conditioning/heating
  • Hair dryer
  • Plug adaptors
  • Twice-daily housekeeping
  • Laundry service
  • Villa Sola Cabiati is only bookable from March to the beginning of November

Poolside

  • After a night of duke-like decadence, you’ll need space to relax. And, mercifully, the 60sq m pool, set on a sloping lawn behind the villa, is just the ticket. Head-soothing, cushion-clad loungers come with expertly rolled towels and pristine parasols. A huge cabana-style super bed is there for the taking.
  • There are two outdoor seating areas beside the pool: one beneath a cotton-shaded pergola, that’s primed for alfresco dining; the other with a series of book-worthy armchairs, that beckon on lazy afternoons.

Grounds

  • This museum-like palazzo has monument-worthy grounds. Laid out in Tuscan style, the estate runs over 10 acres, with Lake Como in front and the forest-quilted folds of the Rhaetian Alps behind.
  • Manicured Italian gardens adjoin the lake shore, divided into four parterres, with genteel paths and flowerbeds. To the back, twisting cypress trees and snaking paths complete the Secret Garden-like scene.
  • In 1813, architect Francesco Bernardini Ferrari designed four sets of sycamore-shaded steps that today create elaborate lakeside moorings leading to Lake Como.
  • Guests can make full use of the spa, gym, tennis court, restaurants, private beach and pools at Grand Hotel Tremezzo; two return transfers are included in booking.
  • There's free valet parking behind the villa with space for six cars.

Location

  • It would be all too easy to stay in bed at Villa Sola Cabiati (the ultra-expensive, 100 per cent, wood-fibre sheets are hard to turn down). However, the waters of Lake Como lie just beyond the villa’s sweeping, shuttered windows – a constant reminder of the adventures that lie in wait. Long before the Clooneys arrived, this slender Y-shaped strip of water was regarded as Lombardy’s loveliest lake. And it isn’t short of competition, either – lakes Garda, Maggiore and Iseo are all on the doorstep, with the same ice-cream-coloured mansions and grand gardens that imbue the Italian Lakes with eternal appeal. Set below the Rhaetian Alps, Lake Como is a playground for walkers, cyclists, swimmers and watersports enthusiasts. But it’s the lake’s man-made attractions that seal the glamorous feel. From toppling mansions to traditional trattorias – it’s little wonder the jet-set can’t keep away.
  • Milan forms the principal gateway to Lake Como, with three airports – Malpensa (70 minutes), Linate and Bergamo (both 90 minutes) – offering multiple in-roads. On the Swiss side of the border, Lugano Agno airport is also within reach (50 minutes). Contact the Smith24 team to arrange onwards transfers to Villa Sola Cabiati.
  • From Goethe to Garbo, stars have long flocked to Lake Como to indulge in the art of dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). And your location on the Riviera della Tremezzina means you can do just that, spending endless days gazing out across the water to the commune of Bellagio, with its bobbing boats and twisting cypress trees, at the place where the lake’s two branches meet.
  • The Como cognoscenti know that there’s more to do here than lounge about, the area’s parade of lavish, shore-side mansions being an obvious highlight. Five minutes away, Villa Carlotta was given to a Prussian princess as a wedding present – a touch better than your average toaster – and is renowned for its botanical gardens. Outside Lenno, Villa Balbianello is where scenes from Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II were filmed.
  • If you’re hoping to rub shoulders with the Clooneys, their villa in Laglio isn’t open to the public (sadly), though the village with its 17th-century San Giorgio church and inviting Locanda del Cantiere (www.lalocandadelcantiere.it) is worth a look.
  • For pastel-painted drama and exotic plant-life head to Varenna; choose Piona for its Benedictine Abbey.
  • If you’re looking for a lake-side island, you’re in luck: there’s only one to choose from, Comacina, with its Romanesque Chiesa di Sant’Eufemia and Locanda dell’Isola restaurant.

The Guestbook

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