I don't know how or why it took me so long to visit Como, but it did, and in hindsight, I'm really not impressed with myself. To think that I could have been waking in a room with a panoramic view of the lake, eating the best gelato of my life and just generally living a more simple life at an idyllically slower pace (and all under the life-giving warmth and energy of the sun) long ago, is hard to come to terms with and makes my work-centered world here in London seem, frankly, strange and unusual. As travelling always does, it made me question why we city folk put ourselves through the paces we do, and at the paces we do - running almost constantly at full speed from one thing to the next without any real feel for each individual moment. I truly believe it is the energy of these cities that keeps us powered up and focussed on doing and achieving, since, as soon as I step foot in a place with a slower pace and simpler agenda, I feel myself begin to exist more slowly and more simply. And it feels really good.
We started our Como experience at the North point of the lake where we spent a couple of days really at one with nature. We were staying right on the edge of the water, and spent our days exploring local villages by foot and lazing by the lake - soaking up the sun, getting weathered by the wind (the North is seriously windy) and wallowing in the water. There are local hikes and water sports too, but if you're on more of a 'doing nothing' vibe, it's the perfect setting to do just that. The lake is large and it takes a few hours to drive around it, but there is a local bus (more like a coach) that runs around it hourly or half hourly, which is really convenient if you want to explore some of the larger villages. We took a bus to Menaggio and after a leisurely coffee, we took a boat from there to Varrena. After some gelato, we took another boat over to Belaggio, where we found a place to settle for dinner. With only 2 nights on the lake, we wanted to fit as much in as possible, and whilst this might seem like a lot for one day, I'd recommend it as the villages are small and, although visually unique, are all quite similar. Enough time for a snack and some sun lounging in each is sufficient if you're on a tight schedule.
We left the lakes and ventured further inland to C Hotel & Spa in Cassago Brianza / Lecco - a design hotel tucked away in the hills of a tiny and peacefully quiet village. The hotel stands with just 18 rooms (the phrase 'quality over quantity' truly applies here) and also boasts a pool, a gym, a spa, a restaurant, a concept store and an award-winniner gelateria (dangerously close by), and we were invited to review their new 'Detox' programme.
Our stay began with a private training session in the gym, which, fresh out of the lake and still drowsy from the sun, was more difficult than anticipated. We spent an hour doing quite isolated exercises both inside the small gym and outside on the lawn, which was perfect as I wouldn't have lasted long doing cardio in that heat. We then went straight into a full body massage with two resident masseuses, before lolling around in the spa with a snack platter of pressed juices, fresh fruits and mango sorbet from the on-site gelateria. In the evening, we tried out the detox menu in the hotels restaurant which involved all kinds of fresh and vibrant ingredients in the form of salads, soups and meat and seafood dishes. We then took an evening stroll in the local area before calling it a night after such a hard day (not).
This kind of behaviour continued for another couple of days. Working out, eating, yoga, facials and unforgettable ayurvedic massages became routine and the entire experience was life changing. We felt refreshed, revitalised and rested, and my boyfriend (who isn't really spiritual at all) even experienced his first emotional release during an Ayurvedic massage. That kind of stuff is seriously exciting to me.
With not many other residents around, we couldn't have planned for a dreamier getaway. It was almost like a retreat - with fitness, food, spa facilities and untouched nature all in one place - only with a menu that also includes the best red wine you've ever tasted (made minutes down the road) and a few pasta options for good measure. Nothing about this place is restrictive, which makes it an ideal stay for couples or groups with varied interests and levels of eagerness to detox.