A chat with Madame Flore of Villa Lario: energy, well-being and sunset. Flore Pilzer, Communication and Marketing Director of Villa Làrio, arrived on Lake Como from Saint Barth. In love with travels, a globetrotter by passion and vocation, she has found her heart in Lake Como and Villa Lario in particular. She grew up in the world of hospitality, in a family hotel in the Antilles, and has always worked in this sector with a strong specialisation in communication. Mother of an 11 years old boy, who studies in Milan at the international school, she shares with her husband the passion for beauty and the management of this jewel overlooking the Lake, in a point that allows seeing the famous George Clooney’s Villa and “the most beautiful sunset from the lake”.
If the first is objective and the second subjective, after the first sunset you enjoy from the terrace of Villa Lario you cannot but agree with Madame Flore, and from here start listening to her with joy, fascinated by her stories, her lives and the energy she releases, and the energy she finds in the earth on which she walks. “We are in love with the lake, for us a shot to the heart. I grew up in St Barth, studied in London and worked ten years in Paris, and I always thought I wouldn’t raise my son as a Parisian. Since we saw this place, we thought of it not just as a private home but as a place to share the beauty and energy of the place”. She comes from the world of events in Paris, where she managed a company that made Italian catering in the French capital, so she was born between the good and the beautiful of Italy enhanced by the elegance and finesse of the French. All these characteristics can be found in her, a contagious smile, elegance too, and peace that reveals the state of someone who has found her place in the world and above all her dimension. As head of communications, she has always been close to this project, has seen it grow and has followed it like a son, indeed right alongside her son!
“Until a few years ago there were few luxurious and stylish places to stay on Lake Como that could provide an appropriate service to international tourism. There were the big international hotels, institutional and sometimes with aspects far removed from the world of boutiques and luxury hotels that the international client expected, while the small hotels were all quite old-fashioned in style, so we immediately thought there was a place for a boutique hotel with a service that was not too formal, that made guests feel at home, but with a level of luxury everywhere, first and foremost in the rooms. The highlight of this strategic point is having a sunset view, the only hotel on the lakeshore to have it!”.
The hotel’s construction work immediately highlighted the excellence of Lake Como, from the companies to the artisans, and this also made the entire local population proud of this achievement, also thanks to the great respect for the environment. “With our clients, we always look for the right balance between luxury and familiarity, we want to give them an unforgettable experience while remaining in a relaxed atmosphere”. This is one of the most complex challenges in addition to the search for excellent staff, starting with the chef, given that often great chefs do not have the ambition to go to Pognana and may want to stay in the city, in Como or more renowned areas. “We have managed to find an exceptional chef who has embraced our thinking, and the next challenge is to bring to these areas also the Milanese who want to treat themselves to a holiday and not just a day trip”.
Our guests are looking for discreet, stable luxury. People looking for a home away from home. Something very authentic and original. And so everything in this property has been done as if it were a home. Small buildings, design in complete union with the outside, with the local views, gardens and nature. “We don’t want to be in the Michelin guide, we want a very high level of food, but we don’t want constraints and limits, we want to pamper our guests without limits, if one of our guests wants to arrive by boat, stay here in the most beautiful suite and dine on a pizza we want to satisfy him! This also allows us to develop more and more Italian customers, which for the owners is of fundamental importance because “there is nothing sadder than going to a hotel restaurant and finding only foreign customers!”.
And when we ask her to tell us about one of her mouth-watering menus while sitting at the restaurant table on the terrace, she has no doubts: “A pinot grigio to whet your appetite, burrata with raw white asparagus; friggitelli stuffed with ricotta, confit tomatoes and taggiasche olive powder; a coffee affogato with our homemade ice cream…” The menu is broader and more complex than his statements, and we have had the opportunity to test and enjoy it: here again an excellent exaltation of local products, which he wants to continue and expand with each new menu. There are many projects in mind and on paper: a wellness area that will not be a classic spa but will touch on more holistic aspects, from yoga in the garden to activities linked to bodily and spiritual energy.
And here Flore’s eyes light up, even more, enhanced by the splendid light of the lake as it approaches sunset, that famous Sunset time that makes everyone fall in love with this place and remains an infallible strength of this terrace. She looks for energy in the places she touches, in those where she lives. And as much as she loves this lake, she also has a “seafaring” side to her, which she has passed on to her son, who today has a dream of being a sailor! She loves Ponza, where she returns often and willingly, where she finds the same strong charge from the sea that she recovers from the sunset here on the lake, perhaps the same beautiful energy that she finds when she returns home to St. Barth at Christmas time. Three places that make her happy, Lake Como, Ponza and Sant Barth. “Three places that you have to deserve, you have to work to find them and experience them. But there’s something magical about them and for me, it’s living energy”. Perhaps it is also because all three have a similar V shape, which casts a kind of pleasant mystery in the air, the kind that gives a little magic.
The kind of magic that can be found in these places, and which we too absorbed at Villa Lario, with the sound of Madame Flore’s words, lulled by the sound of the lake, the bubbles of a Bellavista and the relaxing and unique view of the sunset over the lake. We are curious to know your point of view in the shoes of a client and ask you to imagine what would be the most incredible thing you would take home as a client at Villa Lario: “Certainly the great variety of places in one place, the diversity of views and spaces, which almost allow you to be alone in your stay. On two hectares of land, with this verticality and only 15 rooms, it is a unique and special place. In general, therefore, the location and organisation of the spaces are the real excellence of this place”.
What certainly needs to be improved is the visibility of the place, to make it known to the tourist world, and then to collaborate more and more with other structures and institutions to give more and more visibility to this area, which has recently enjoyed the prestigious and advantageous presence of George Clooney… “I believe, however, that we need to take deeper and more targeted action, and not just stop at enjoying the prestige that a great personality brings with his presence!
What does it mean to enjoy Lake Como? “The first thing is to be able to go around the lake by boat, to go swimming, to go out to dinner, to go to the fruit market…the boat and the direct access to the lake for me are the fundamental things to look for when you want to live an unforgettable holiday. The evening activity not to be missed is getting on the Riva boat in an elegant evening dress for an aperitif at sunset: this is an intrinsic experience of Lake Como not to be missed. Swimming in Lake Como is an experience not to be missed. It’s great to swim in front of Villa Pliniana or Villa del Balbianello, with clean water and a breathtaking view. Then visit the Museo della Barca (Museo Barca Lariana) located in Pianello del Lario or other places of art, or just let your gaze be enraptured by the villas that line each coastline.
Enjoying time, the main point this place wants to convey. And it is no coincidence that the landmark sculpture, located on the flush pool on the highest terrace, is “Time goes by” by French sculptor Nathalie Decoster.
Time goes slowly and you have to enjoy every single second.
This is the essence of Italian Dolce Vita… this is the luxury of simplicity.
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Article edit by Nadia Toppino
Food, Wine & Hospitality Journalist