Boutique Travel - December 23, 2021

A Visit to La Cavagnola

By Veronique Lievre

In October, we traveled to Lake Como, Italy, and the first stop of our stay was at La Cavagnola. This ochre-hued house sits on the thin strip of land that runs between Como and Bellagio on the eastern side of the lake, at the southern tip of the village of Lezzeno.

The village is quiet, hidden from the crowds in this less developed part of the lake, and you access the house via a tiny road, parking at the top and descending the stairs to its front door. When you describe La Cavagnola as sitting directly on the water, it’s hard to imagine how true this is until you’ve seen it for yourself. The water comes right up to the walls of the house, making the views from its windows unbelievable. We stayed in the upper of the house's two apartments, looking out over the water with its sprinkling of boats - and it was almost like floating above the lake.

Lake Como is located in the foothills of the Alps, and you really see that here, with mountains meeting water in breathtaking style. With the lush greenery born from frequent downpours, it feels almost tropical. There’s a little beach adjacent to the house, as well as a wooden deck where you can sit by the waterside and breath it all in.

After settling in, we set off to explore the waterfront. We followed a footpath between the old houses and the water’s edge. There’s no road at this level of the hillside, and without cars it’s like being transported back in time. 

We discovered the village of Nesso, where you cross a little arched bridge past its impossibly picturesque waterfall. The streets were so quiet, they felt abandoned. Arriving at a restaurant that had been recommended to us, it looked empty, but this is what off-season feels like. The owner was there and delighted to welcome us, throwing a bright red tablecloth over a table just for us, and serving up a delicious meal. It was amazing.

Back at the house, our host Guilia asked us if we’d like to see the lake up close, suggesting a tour by her friend who owns a boat company. It’s a special service she offers to guests, and we were delighted to take her up on it. After lunch, we took to the water on a cool wooden boat, for views of famous houses along the shore, and stopped for a drink on the terrace of the legendary Villa d’Este, a 16th-century mansion designed by architect Pellegrino Pellegrini.

That night, we had dinner in Lezzeno. The specialty on the lake is, perhaps unsurprisingly, fish, and there are restaurants everywhere. Lezzeno is tiny but it has five, all of them good and not expensive.

The next day, we took the car to Bellagio before crossing the lake to visit some new properties for BoutiqueHomes on the other, flatter side of the lake. Bellagio is alive with tourists, even in low season, but, on our return, we couldn’t resist stopping at the Giardini di Villa Melzi d’Eril. This is a must-see lakeside garden, with trees from all over the world that feel like they were planted thousands of years ago. 

The Neoclassical villa was in fact built between 1808 and 1810 by architect and ornamentalist Giocondo Albertolli, with English-style sculpture gardens by architect Luigi Canonica and botanist Luigi Villoresi. It’s an incredible work of art that everyone should visit. If you do, please visit the Lebanese cedar tree for me.

To stay at La Cavagnola on the very edge of Lake Como, start your journey here.