A sip of Franciacorta and a lakeside chat with Valentina De Santis, founder of Lake Como’s newest hotel, Passalacqua, gave me a new appreciation for the Italian way of slow travel. There is actually a word: Villeggiatura, which means to go on vacation, to simply pass time, and to let your mind wander.
Now there is a new place to do just that on Lake Como.
In 2018, Villa Passalacqua was purchased by the De Santis family, Lake Como natives and owners of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. After a major three-year restoration project, Passalacqua opened in June 2022, reviving and renewing its historic vocation for hospitality. Located in a beautiful 18th century villa, the former home of composer Vincenzo Bellini, the hotel still feels more like a home than a hotel from the moment you are welcomed by the friendly staff.
At a time when hoteliers are going big rather than small, Passalacqua is small in number of rooms (only 24 rooms & suites) but large in scale, which makes it unique, luxurious and intimate.
There is something different to experience at every level of the terraced landscaped gardens. Free range chickens in the vegetable garden. A pool area designed by JJ Martin with a conservatory where lunch is served in her signature dishes and patterns. An outdoor cinema next to the tennis court and a bocce area next to the upland garden.
Gilded mirrors hang next to 19th-century portraits; objets d’art sit on lacquered antique side tables; hand-blown Murano chandeliers shimmer next to silky Fortuny lampshades; and most of the antiques were found and bought by Valentina’s parents, who enjoyed buying everything he liked for this hotel. In fact, much of the interiors was put together by the family themselves, it was a love at first sight project.
There’s also a spa with steam room and Barbara Sturm products, two sleek boats at the hotel’s private pier for cruising around the lake, and free daily activities “Every day is a gift” program for guests that make this place feel even more like home. From gelato making workshops and mixology classes to outdoor yoga and flower arranging classes.
There is, of course, the opulence of original plasterwork, hand-painted wooden tables and gilded mirrors, with silky Beltrami bed linen in every room.
But the ultimate luxury is actually losing track of time.