Living La Dolce Vita At Passalacqua, The World's Best Hotel in 2023
Food & Wine
Americans are indebted to George Clooney for presenting them to Lake Como, but you can thank me for introducing you to your new home away from home: Passalacqua. This historic, private villa has evolved into a majestic getaway drenched in Italian artisanship and sophistication.
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Luxe boutique property in a historic house from 1787 with elegant rooms offering views of Lake Como.
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To appreciate the legacy of Passalacqua, one must know its rich history. The villa was first built in 1787 by Count Andrea Lucini-Passalacqua on land that was once owned by Pope Innocent XI. As a private home in the quiet village of Moltrasio, the 18th century villa hosted elite global leaders such as Napoleon and Winston Churchill. The villa quickly became synonymous with figures of the arts, where creative minds such as composer Vincenzo Bellini made Villa Passalacqua his home in 1829 and composed two of his most famous operas, Norma and La Sonnambula, there. Fast forward to 2018, the De Santis family, owners of the legendary Grand Hotel Tremezzo, purchased the property and invested much time, effort and money in a grand restoration for it to serve as the majestic home away from home it is today.
Words cannot describe my astonishment as I rolled up to Passalacqua's private entrance. I was completely taken aback by all its beauty - the 18th century architecture was perfectly preserved, terraced gardens were abundant with well-manicured shrubbery and rose bushes, and of course, the staff was extremely accommodating as they eagerly welcomed me with smiles. The property is composed of 24 suites that are spread out between the main villa, converted stables and Casa al Lago. Every square inch of the interior was thoughtfully crafted by Valentina De Santis herself. She ensured each space has a distinct design that flaunts the Italian baroque style and enlisted creative assistance from world renowned artisans such as Venice's Barovier & Toso for hand-blown Murano glass chandeliers, Fortuny for traditional silk fabric and Barbini for hand-made mirrors. Valentina struck a balance between her extravagant style and highlighting the villa's history by preserving original elements from the 18th century. This includes the exposed wooden beams found in the restored stables, original hand painted fireplace in the villa's main bar, preserved frescoes found in several suites and stonework in their underground tunnels to the spa and lake entrance.
The grounds include unmatched amenities such as:
Clay tennis court
State of the art gym
Outdoor dining on the terrace
Shared indoor dining area
Outdoor pool overlooking Lake Como with accompanying upholstery by La Double J’s Martin
Small yard that houses an organic vegetable garden, fruit trees and a chicken coop
Turkish inspired spa attached to a secret tunnel that leads out to the lake
Private dock on the lake for guests to sunbathe or meet their captain for a private boat tour, which can be accommodated by Passalacqua concierge.
Another impressive item is the food. The chefs take care of guests like family, similar to their prior experiences as cooking for Italy's most prestigious families. The rustic kitchen has no doors, rather a wide opening as a way to encourage all to wander in and make themselves at home, as if they were stumbling into their own kitchens. The chefs keep the menu authentic to the region and only use fresh ingredients, some of which are sourced right from Passalacqua's garden.
Need to Know
I truly can't categorize Passalacqua as a hotel. In its purest and magical form, it will be your (luxurious) home away from home. The hotel is perfect for a romantic honeymoon, as well as an unforgettable family holiday. There are lots of memories ready to be made here, so please feel free to reach out to me if you'd like to learn more or book your stay here!
This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Italy. In need of further inspiration? Check out Brianna Seaberg’s guide, Uncover Hidden Gems: Top 10 Unique Things To Do In Rome, Italy.
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