Lake Como is one of Italy's most-loved beauty spots, its shores dotted with picturesque townships sheltering beneath verdant mountains. The downside is that its most popular hubs get very busy in peak season. Just five kilometres from the town of Como, Casta Diva Resort & Spa is perched on a lakeside estate that stretches over 26,000 square metres, giving guests an enviable degree of privacy. Regular shuttles provide easy access to town.
The nine villas dotted throughout the expansive gardens include the historic Villa Roccabruna, where you will find the bar, the reception and entry to the spa. The villa was once the home of Italian opera singer Giuditta Pasta, who entertained guests including composers such as Rossini and Donizetti. The guest rooms are spread across six other villas (there are also two private villas), which means that you never have too many neighbours. The property is fully occupied during our stay, but the only places we regularly run into other guests are by the floating pool – more on that in a moment – and at breakfast.
Because the hotel is fully occupied, we have landed one of a handful of rooms that doesn't have a view. In theory, that doesn't sound like a much of a hardship, but when we arrive and fall in love with those amazing lake views we realise that staying here is all about the outlook. The unadorned furnishings are also surprising, given the opulent interiors found in most of the rooms. And we are still wondering why there is a silhouette of a rearing horse on one wall. The generously-sized bathroom is the most indulgent element.
The sumptuous breakfast buffet includes everything from cereal to cold cuts, muffins to fresh fruit. Guests can help themselves to prosecco, and a range of hot dishes is also available. Light meals such as pizza are served on the terrace, but the meal worth staying in for is dinner at L'Orangerie restaurant. Chef Massimiliano Mandozzi showcases local ingredients in beautifully plated dishes such as veal tartare with pine tree jus and turnip greens, or smoked lake fish with sheep's cheese and crunchy cashew and cucumber sauce. After something a little lighter? No worries. When my dining partner requests for a rocket salad, it is promptly delivered; impressively, the olive oil and balsamic dressing is prepared in front of us.
Don't be in too much of a rush to head out. You will want to schedule in some serious relaxation, whether that is an afternoon by the pool – which floats in the lake – or a session in the resort's 1300-square-metre wellness area. Guests have on-demand access to the impressive wellness facilities, which include everything from saunas and steam rooms to a Himalayan rose salt room. Book one of the four generously-sized spa suites themed after the elements – fire, earth, water and air – to enjoy hot stone massages or La Vallee facials. If you do want to go exploring, there is plenty to choose from, including historic villas and scenic hiking trails. If you are treating yourself to a private lake cruise, the staff can arrange a pick-up from the hotel's dock.
A dreamy lakeside retreat – just make sure to book a room with a view.
Via Enrico Caronti, 69, 22020 Blevio. Casta Diva Resort is open between March and November. Rates from €400 for a garden view room, or €580 for a deluxe room with a lake view. Phone +39 031 32511, castadivaresort.com
The illusion of having your own sumptuous lakeside retreat.
Not scoring a room with a view.
Ute Junker was a guest of Casta Diva Resort and Rail Europe, raileurope.com.au