Close to the Swiss border, each of the five major lakes of northern Italy’s famous “Lake District” has its own character.
Garda, often overrun with Austrian and German tourists, is the largest, busiest and most Mediterranean, while Maggiore and Lugano span the border and charming Iseo prides itself on being the smallest and quietest.
But it is the fifth lake, Como, that grabs the glamour, attracting superstars well before George Clooney bought his waterfront house there and began inviting Hollywood royalty — Cindy Crawford and Brad Pitt among them — to party with him and his human rights lawyer wife, Amal.
Como’s appeal is easy to appreciate. It is beautiful, dramatic, super-stylish and within an hour of Milan. The easy journey by road or rail encourages wealthy Milanese to choose it as a weekend escape from Italy’s fashion capital.
CROSS TO ST MORITZ FOR LUNCH
Once at Como, they can drop in at the exclusive Villa d’Este hotel for a lakeside prosecco, or drive into Switzerland for lunch in St Moritz, and to ski there in winter. Alternatively, they can relish the civilised pace of life around the lake, marvelling at the changing moods of the steep mountains and deep, dark waters.
“Lake Como offers a fresher, more pleasant climate to Milan but it also has Michelin-star restaurants and a good level of entertainment in a small geographical area,” says Amy Redfern of Knight Frank. “The main buyers at present are the British — who have always felt an affinity for Como — other northern Europeans and Americans. All of them appreciate the chance to be on the water, cruise around the lake and moor up easily for lunch or to explore.”
FINE DINING? TAKE THE BOAT
The lake is shaped as an inverted Y with Como Town on the south-west shore. Most home buyers want to be on the sunnier left-hand branch of the wishbone shape, close to Menaggio on the east side and Bellagio on the west, says Redfern. “It has most of the five-star hotels and the best restaurants, while easy proximity for an evening out in Como town is important to buyers.”
Those who want a mooring should consider the new flats and townhouses with terraces at Bellagio Lake Resort, from £420,000 for two to four bedrooms, with moorings from £17,000, through Knight Frank. The waterfront resort is five minutes by car from Bellagio on a wide section of the lake with beautiful views of Comacina island and pretty Lenno village.
A three-bedroom resale flat in Torno looks excellent value at £492,500, covering the top two floors of a period building. The interiors are dated, but it has wooded gardens, a boat dock and wonderful views over the lake. At £382 a square foot compared with an average £510 on the lake, its potential is good.
Property portal gate-away.com reports enquiries for Lake Como rose 91 per cent year on year in the first half of this year, with buyers looking to spend £569,000 on average.
Expect to pay £424,500-£637,000 for a good-quality two-bedroom lakeside flat close to Como, and from £1,273,000 for lake-view villas. Big traditional villas on the water with a private mooring start from £4.25 million.
For buyers willing to renovate, Gate-Away has homes from £72,200 for a two-bedroom fisherman’s house on the water in Tremezzina opposite Bellagio, and from £140,000 for a 1,292sq ft flat in Menaggio.
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