Interview with Flore Pilzer: from Saint Barth to Lake Como
Flore Pilzer, Communications and Marketing Director of Villa Làrio, arrived in Lake Como from Saint Barth. In an interview for COMO LAKE Today, Flore, a real globetrotter, revealed to us why she settled down in Lake Como, described her life experience on the lake and shared some of her favourite spots.
How many years have you lived in Lake Como?
I have lived in Lake Como already for six years. We’ve been coming here over the past twenty years, and about ten years ago we decided to relocate here. One of the reasons is that we wanted to manage the property correctly (boutique hotel Villa Làrio), to be here every day. We travel a lot, return often, and it’s like we are new around here every time we return. We have a small son, and for me, it was essential to raise my son in a different country. Italy is an excellent country for the French. It’s not so far. You can often travel back and forth to see your family. Stendhal said that the Italians are like the French, except for the smile. And this is so true! I’m a pretty happy person, and I prefer smiley people.
You are from Saint Barth, and you have lived in different countries and world capitals. Why have you, being a globetrotter, decided to settle down in Lake Como?
I grew up in Saint Barth, lived a couple of years in the US, studied in London, and lived in Paris for ten years. And Como was my next destination. I’m sure it will be my longest stay.
After a certain age, you become less excited by living in a big city and start preferring to live more outdoors. And the panorama here… Every morning you wake up and see a different glorious beginning of the day. It’s unusual. Lake Como has its “drama” but at the same time its “dolce”. So, for me, it’s a place of contrast. I love the contrast! And this is what makes life exciting. This dramatic place can be so powerful with its mountains, clouds, deep waters, and on the other side, its Italian lifestyle, its Italian dolce vita. The sweetness of the colours wraps you up. So, relocating to Lake Como was an easy decision. No regrets. Every year we go back to Saint Barth. My family lives there, and we usually spend Christmas on the island.
What has changed in Lake Como in the last five years?
Lake Como revealed its beauty a lot more to the rest of the world. Before, it used to be a hidden secret. Now it is opened. I have seen an evolution. A couple of years ago, on Lake Como, you could find just a few luxury hotels. There were not enough accommodations and restaurants to host its international travellers. This situation changed, and it offers an excellent choice for everybody coming to the lake. Today on Lake Como you can find everything. From tiny home restaurants to high-level cuisine with a genuine Italian lake experience. It became touristic, but at the same time, authentic. It’s an exciting place to be right now.
What would you recommend doing in Lake Como for travellers?
Here in Villa Làrio, we recommend our guests to walk to the next village, take a boat, go on a hike, and come back by boat. We recommend ditching the car and explore the lake by walking around and by vessel. This is what we want people to try here.
The must-do evening activity is to hop on the Riva boat in an elegant evening gown for an aperitive on the sunset – this is a very inherently Lake Como experience that you should not miss.
“As Italy is so much about food, I recommend all kinds of gourmet experiences”, – Flore Pilzer.
Aperitivo is one of the best things on Lake Como. Especially in Villa Làrio. You can sit downstairs by the water or on the terrace. It brings you a feeling of holiday.
The night boat ride in Lake Como can also be unforgettable. Go sailing at 11:30 at night, just go, watch the stars, have a glass of Bella Vista and enjoy the night in Lake Como.
As Italy is so much about food, I recommend all kinds of gourmet experiences. We love to go by boat to the food market in Como to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and other local products. We love to go for lunch, dinner, or for an aperitive to Momi, Da Luciano or Alle Darsene di Loppia. When our son was smaller, we used to go to River Side Bar in Bellagio. It’s a great destination for kids with shallow lake waters.
Dearing to swim in the lake. Swimming in Lake Como is a must-try experience. It’s fantastic to swim in front of Villa Pliniana or Villa del Balbianello. The water is clean, and the panorama is breathtaking. We have been swimming in the Lake Como for twenty years, and we recommend to our guests to swim from the jetty of Villa Làrio.
Visit the Boat Museum (Museo Barca Lariana) located in Pianello del Lario. It’s an exciting and historic place. There are other fascinating boat spots in Lake Como like Matteri and Riva cantieri. Unfortunately, they are closed to the public, but if you are lucky enough to find the right connections and get a visit there, you will enjoy it for sure.
Lately, Lake Como offers many classical music events that I highly recommend attending. For example, Lacmus festival.
And the last recommendation for your Lake Como vacation – just go with the flow! Full schedule, bucket lists, and must-see itineraries are fine, but sometimes on Lake Como, you simply want to relax, read a book under the trees or soak up the sun. It’s fine. It’s also a Lake Como experience.
What is your favourite place in Lake Como?
Da Luciano. It combines few factors. Firstly, we get there by boat, and we need only to cross the lake from Villa Làrio. Secondly, I love the Da Luciano family – natural and simple people from the lake. They meet you with a big smile. Every time they enrich your experience. Da Luciano is my little crush. It’s so authentic!
What do you like to do in Lake Como on weekends?
I love to go by boat. I have a boat license and often go by boat. To get boat experience, you don’t’ necessarily need to have a permit. You can rent a small boat.
Then I go for a “hunt” for chapels. There are so many authentic ancient chapels in the area. There are these small places where you can see little Maria. They are hidden all over the lake. It’s great fun to search for them.
I like to grab a pizza at Capolinea bar in Brunate and go for a hike. Brunate is very comfortable for hiking. You can go up and down from the city of Como.
We enjoy water skiing. I can recommend having this experience with the Wakeboard club, located in Blevio.
Where is it better to stay on Lake Como?
When you select the accommodation for your Lake Como vacation, be super careful. The lake is not easily accessible. If you are not staying in a property located on the lake, it can be challenging for you to reach the lake and enjoy it. You should be mindful of that when you book a hotel in Lake Como. Direct access to the lake is key to enjoy the lake experience. Be sure to taste the real Lake Como life.
You are one of the few ladies on the lake who has a boat license. That’s impressive! Do you enjoy it?
The boat is the most incredible experience of Lake Como. I love it, and I go everywhere in the lake by boat. Though, it’s not easy to park the boat. You have to know the places. There are many private parking spots, but just a few are open to the public. We provide our guests with recommendations where they can stop and where they can have lunch. If you are not certain about mooring the boat on Lake Como, the other option is to grab a picnic basket and have lunch in the middle of the lake. It would be fantastic if the municipalities of the lake would collaborate and provide more boat access to the lovely Lake Como towns. Because this is a unique feature of this place, and it could be better exploited.
What are the must-see places on lake Como?
Villa del Balbianello is a must. I love the adventures of the owner, his story and his library. It’s a unique place.
Another must – go for a stroll in the centre of Como city. It’s so gorgeous, vibrant, such a well-preserved Italian town. Walk-in Como, have a cup of coffee, experience an authentic Italian lifestyle. I’m not sure that people coming to the central part of the lake do it, though it’s absolutely worth it.
Tell us about Villa Làrio. Who is your target?
Our guests are looking for discreet luxury, settled luxury. People who are looking for a home away from home. Something very authentic and original. Everything in this property has been made to feel like it’s a home. We have small buildings. You don’t have a feeling here that there are many people around you. The design is made to resonate with the outside. It’s blended with local panoramas, gardens and nature. We are lucky that Villa Làrio has one of the vastest private gardens on the lake.
Our guests are a mix of families and couples. We have many families from Australia. Our European guests are primarily young professionals and families. We are a very kids’ friendly hotel. We have spacious, comfortable family rooms. People who are coming here have a certain mindset. They come for a true lake experience.
How do visitors find Villa Làrio?
First of all – word of mouth, personal friend’s recommendations and Instagram. We are not in a big travel operators’ business.
The press loves our history and location. And we are happy to have significant interactions with different media from around the globe. It gives us visibility.
How important is Instagram in your marketing mix?
Instagram is super important for us. Today you dream about your next vacation on Instagram. I personally look after our page, and I try to share a little bit of the taste of what we are having here. It’s super important to share it. We are lucky to host many famous people in Villa Làrio. We get a lot of messages on Instagram from people that dream of coming to Lake Como. It’s a great platform to interact with future guests.
For local people, the symbol of Villa Làrio is the man’s sculpture in the swimming pool. Where is it from?
This art piece is made by Nathalie Decoster, a famous French sculptor. We have many of her art creations around Villa Làrio. The most important work is located in the swimming pool and called “Time goes by”. For us, it was exactly what we wanted. When time goes slowly, and you can enjoy every second. So, this collaboration with Nathalie appeared very naturally. Though we had no strategy, we just wanted to have some art, and initially, we planned on changing sculptures from time to time. But Nathalie’s piece became so recognised and valuable, it’s our local Instagram point. It became a part of us and the symbol of Villa Làrio. So, Nathalie Decoster hooks us up.
Elena Markova, Editor-in-Chief at COMO LAKE Today
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