5 minute Holiday: Villa d’Este, lake Como, Italy

Hey there amazing reader, I am trying out something new: 5-minute holidays. <What is that?>  are you probably thinking. Well, it is a short description of a place that hopefully will make you feel as if you were there. My friend brought me on the idea when she said she wished she could be with me at our house in Italy, but instead she was at school in math. I remember that when I was around 8 years old, during the breaks me and a friend lied down in the grass and we would talk about what we would do when we were somewhere, how it looked like and how it felt, so we wouldn’t be bored in cold Holland. I am not a professional writer, though I hope to be some day. If you like it, tell me, if you think something needs to be improved, please tell me too below in the comments.  

Now, today, this month, this year.

The car bounces through the cobblestone streets of Cernobbio, a small village at the Como lake in Italy. The houses are old, the walls coloured mostly in pastel colours like red, orange, blue and yellow and some decorated with Frescoes, the streets are narrow and the shops are small. The shutters of most of the houses are so old that they hang in a steep gradient and squeak heavily when the owners try to open or close them. You pass countless Pasticerrie, Pizzeria’s, Osterie, gelaterie and hotels. Cernobbio is during this time a year quiet, and most of its population is not inside working to give the lines of tourists their pizza or ice cream, but outside loudly talking, laughing and smoking while leaning their heads backwards in their neck to take up as much sun as they can before the forecasted rain of tomorrow arrives. You can peek into some of the shops, most of them have shoddy things in the windows, but it fits into the scenery, the furniture of the shops are all dark brown with only the products coloured. One café has a small terrace of three tables outside, the tables wobbly, the chairs already with one foot in the grave, but the old men that are sipping their coffee’s and hitting the table with their fists whilst laughing do not seem to notice. The right side of your view becomes taken by a big, dark green hedge that seems to stand on a small, old, red brick wall. At the end of the hedge stands a sign with Villa d’Este written on it.

The car turns right, into the path, and drives through the iron gates onto a gravel driveway. On your left there are two shops in small fairytale like houses with yellow walls and brown shutters and roofs. You nod to the bodyguard in grey suit on your right who smiles and nods back. The house on your right is situated on the edge of a small cliff right above the water, it’s shutters are closed, yet it still seems very alive. On both sides of the driveway there are trees with about 2 metres between each of them. Soon you realise that not just the grass patch on your left is perfectly cut without one uneven spot, but the entire land of the Villa is cut so precisely that one might be scared to walk over the grass. You park the car behind the Villa, in between old Fiats, but also new Land-Rovers and Porsches. You grasp your bag from the backseat, put on sunglasses and walk to the entrance: two walls with mosaic in them from the angle where you are standing now. You stop in between them to look at the view in front of you. At the end of your view you can see the other side of the green-blue water of the Como lake, the green hills with big villa’s. A little in front of that you can see the floating-on-the-lake terrace and pool with the guests of the hotel sitting in bikinis and Vlierbrequin swimsuits, the Serre looking out over the queen’s pavilion: a red building build in the same Renaissance style as the villa, and part of the garden with small coloured flowers. The three stairs in front of your made out of the same material as the walls and the floor and the small fountain in the middle of a small green pond in front of you.


As you walk down the stairs you get a better view of the famous  villa. It’s walls pastel orange and yellow and white around the big windows. It’s beauty is also thanks to the big oak trees and on the terrace with gravel in front of it the trees in form of hands. In front of the villa there is a big balcony under which some tables have been placed and around its pillars grows green ivy. You sit down on a table below one of the hand shaped trees, the trunk of which is dark brown, but it’s leafs on top, are nearly neon green. All the tables have a lot of space around them, not like restaurants in other places where you are nearly sitting on your neighbour’s lap. You scoot your chair up towards the lake until it clings against the grey iron of the fence and look over the edge, the water near the wall is clear, you can see the tiny black fishes racing through the still jelly like water reflecting the sunlight arriving from above you. A waiter in an off-white suit, white blouse, black tie and white gloves walks over and hands you the menu, ‘What do you wish to drink?’ he asks while you look carefully at the long names on the paper. You tell him what drink you want, order a bottle of water too and take your time to read through the second page. The gravel creaks as the waiter walks away and serves the big family consisting of a grandma, grandpa, father, mother and three daughters. All of them have big dark sunglasses on, and told the waiter their rooms numbers. You can’t quite believe that you are sitting at the place where the king and queen of Italy visited, the Czarina of Russia lived for two years, the Queen of England in 1815, the Sultan of Morocco, Madonna, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Bellini, Rossini, The Saudi Arabian Royal Family, King Leopold of Belgium, Alfred Hitchcock and Liszt visited. When the waiter returns you order a fancy sounding, half French, half Italian dish and sit back, breaking off pieces of bread and eating it slowly. The other side of the lake is close, allowing you to see the old residences along the water and more up on the hill. A small boat disembarks at the small dock a little ahead. The two poles, highly coloured you have seen when you were in Venice, where all the Gondola’s parked and let out the tourists.

When the food arrives on a white plate and a silver lid you take in all the aroma’s surrounding the dish. The spices, the oil, the vegetables. Before you begin you take a sip of your drink from the thin wine glass highly decorated with carved with bows and crests. With the silver cutlery you bring the food towards your mouth. When it touches your tongue you close your eyes and nod. Also the big family a few tables away are speaking highly about the food they got served. The food is gone before you know it, and you sit back again in the yellow satin cushion with the wine glass in your hand. The sun burns your shoulders and warms your face, your hair seems to be cooking, when a cool breeze brushes against your cheek the warmth it partly taken away with the wind. The wind makes the leafs in the trees rustle and the small Violets flower move up and down. The waiter takes away your plate and asks if you want coffee, tea or a dessert. Feeling lucky you order tea and ice cream, the tea, mint tea, is served in an old tea-cup with a sugar bag with Villa d’Este written on it. With the tea you also get a coconut ball with white chocolate in it, a chocolate cookie, a strawberry sand biscuit, a sugared pineapple and a cookie with chocolate in between and Apricot on it. On the right of your tea the waiter puts the ice cream, three scoops of homemade Italian ice cream.

The tea is testing your senses, it is hot when you take a sip, but when you breathe in your throat and mouth feel like you are walking through Antarctica, breathing in the icy air. The cookies are one by one delicious, the strawberry sand cookie falls apart in your mouth and sticks behind your teeth. Five minutes later you still taste the cookie. The ice cream, well, we both know how delicious Italian ice cream is, it is creamy, rich with flavour and so cold that your spine shakes after the first bite.

When the waiter comes with the check a little later you keep you eyes closed while you pay and look at the amount on the piece of paper. You stand up, reach out for your bag behind you and enter the villa. You have to get used to the sudden change in light, you are standing on a blue rug, with on both sides of the light blue room chaise Longue’s. The ceiling is sphered and has carved angels and flowers in it. Through the open door on your left you walk, still over a rug, this time yellow and blue, into a big hall, this time with on both sides closed doors, big paintings and golden vases on old furniture. In the entrance hall ahead the darker light is substituted for bright white light reflected on the white pillars, white ceiling and white and grey marble floor. Your arm brushes against the yellow, white and orange flowers on an antique cupboard against one of the pillars and makes you rub your arm. What would it be like to have lived here? You ask yourself. Through the door next to the reception you walk out into the burning sun and make you way back to your car. Your stomach satisfied, your vitamin D recharged and your inspiration level high.


Please let me know below in the comments what you think, 

Love, Joy.

Pictures: pinterest


One thought on “5 minute Holiday: Villa d’Este, lake Como, Italy

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