“The women come and go,” as poet T.S. Eliot composed in The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock, “talking of Michelangelo.” Which we are paraphrasing into “talking of Villa d’Este.”
Our Villa d’Este nomads are back home. Elgart Aster and Paul Swerdlove, those peripatetic Beverly Hillbillies renowned as successful commercial realtors, just spent their 25th season at the fabled Lake Como resort, an hour from Milan’s Malpensa Airport.
In fact, this is Elgart’s 40th summer there abouts. Our 63-year-old gent remains trim as a youngster with a 32-inch-waist(!), and is healthy as a young colt. Sans any medications(!). Lucky Elgart.
This irresistible resort of Villa d’Este was founded during the 15th century as a convent, and later served as a Jesuit retreat.
Becoming, then through the centuries as a lover’s paradise of choice.
Emily Blunt and John Krasinski now discovered it, as did the infamous of long ago. Elizabeth Taylor with first husband Nick Hilton, Ava Gardner with Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth with Orson Welles, Clark Gable with Carole Lombard, Aristotle Onassis with Maria Callas.
Under the keen-eyed concern and attention of Managing Director Danilo Zucchetti and Hotel Manager Massimo Dorino, Villa d’Este is a world unto its own.
Truth to tell, our Beverly Hillbillies rarely leave the premises during their summer holidays. Indulging in the abundant comfort, with food so good there is no desire to go elsewhere.
“We read, swim, visit with loyal guests and stroll the lush gardens in this blessed Italianate corner of God’s country,” says Elgart.
More than ever, Lake Como’s a draw for cognoscenti travelers. After World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill bundled an entourage of family and friends including a private detective(!) for long visits, while he painted his sought-after landscapes of the countryside.
George Clooney and wife Amal own major Lake Como property, where they’ve entertained Prince Harry and bride Meghan Markle, Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso. Their one-year-old twins, Ella and Alex, will be speaking fluent Italian as well as English. The Clooneys also own a mansionette in Studio City.
George claims they named their tots with simple names rather than the show-offy monikers the celebrities appear to prefer. “We prefer normal.”
Villa d’Este regulars include Bruce Springsteen, Ricky and Ralph Lauren, Elton John who accompanies his personal chef, anxious to have him “trained” by various of the 47 chefs(!) who inhabit the resort’s kitchens.
New guests are surprised by the hotel’s “floating swimming pool” concept on the lake.
The staff is huge, and employs 340 to look after the 167 accommodations.
Every year, Villa d’Este plants more than 80,000 blossoms that are a feast for the eyes in gardens, and deliriously photographed by the visitors.
About whom the chauffeurs wink that you know a well-heeled traveler by checking out the expensive leather of their custom footwear.
Why wait? Shall we book before the summer’s over?