The Edge of Lake Como
Often, when people think of Lake Como, their mind conjures up images of sumptuous historic villas and luxurious gardens – and rightfully so. There’s an embarrassment of riches, mostly clustered between Como and the central portion of the lake: think for instance of Villa del Balbianello (where they filmed a scene from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones), Villa Carlotta, Villa d’Este, Villa Olmo, Villa Melzi… yes, also Villa Oleandra in Laglio, which belongs to some actor named George. He’s a big draw to the lake. Though rumour has it, he’s constructed a device that launches eggs at gawking boats.
But a rather new crop of contemporary structures have started dotting the shores of the Larius (the lake’s Latin name) in recent years. The most remarkable is Il Sereno, in Torno, nestled between the mountains and the water, on the Eastern side, almost half-way between the town of Como and Bellagio. Opened in 2016, it’s one of those works of architecture that you either passionately love (like me) or instinctively hate. Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola’s design mixes rationalist elements with utter Italian luxury, with no real separation between indoor and outdoor. The overarching idea was to blend in with the surroundings by using local materials such as Ceppo di Gré, Moltrasio stone, Fossena stone, walnut wood, and steel structures, and a colour palette of greys and browns revived by touches of greens and blues, inspired by the lake’s glistening waters.
If the exterior looks somewhat edgy and austere, with modules covered with wooden screens filtering the light bleeding into the rooms and common areas, the interior spaces are warm, airy, and stylish – textural yet minimalist. Il Sereno is comprised of 30 suites, all with views of the lake, a Michelin-starred restaurant (Bertone al Lago), an infinity pool by the private beach, vertical gardens and botanical installations by Patrick Blanc, a bar, a spa, and a fitness centre. Three custom-made Riva boats complete the picture.
For its careful selection of materials and its energy-saving lighting systems, Il Sereno obtained a Clima House certification, recognizing its sustainable and climate-friendly design. A real testament to 21-century luxury: subtle, green, and extremely comfortable.
Luisa Grigoletto recently travelled Lake Como far and wide – and just out of range from George Clooney’s egg launcher.