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Find A Home In Clooney's Italian Neighbourhood Without Breaking The Bank

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By : Adriana Giglioli    99 or more times read
First he ignored a line of rich would-be purchasers willing to part with more than US$25million for his mansion. Now he's shrugged off the discovery of a 225kg arsenal of Second World War ammunition in the water less than 15 metres away. Movie star George Clooney is obviously so enamoured of his $10million abode in Laglio, on Italy's Lake Como, that he's not about to move anytime soon.

And who can blame him? Lake Como's charms are difficult to turn your back on. Other stellar names with homes on Lake Como are Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson, rock singer Sting and soccer coach Jose Mourinho, while relatives of late designer Gianni Versace sold their lakeside villa for Euro 30million. Such is its star appeal that parts of 007 movie Casino Royale as well as Star Wars blockbuster Attack of the Clones were filmed here while Cernobbio, on Lake Como's south-western banks has the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Angelina Jolie and Yves St Laurent among its devotees.

Since Clooney moved into his property in Laglio in 2002, a few miles north of Cernobbio, visitors have included Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. The actor also picked up a dilapidated house neighbouring his for US$4million that has since been converted into an annex for his famous visitors.

Lake Como, in Italy's Lombardy region forms an inverted "Y" that starts at the foothills of the Alps close to Switzerland and runs south for some 55km. Its superlative views along with the Alps forming a stunning backdrop make this one of Italy's most desirable locations. Among the most expensive too. Clooney coming here sparked a surge in the market that at one stage saw values go up 25% in as many months. Notwithstanding the worldwide housing slump, things here have stayed buoyant, fueled by demand from well-heeled Milanese residents and financiers and bankers based across the Swiss border. The area is choc-a-bloc with Euro 15million properties if you are after a illustrious home by the lake with a Hollywood heart-throb next door.

Yet thankfully you don't need a film star's wallet to purchase a holiday home here. In Clooney's adopted home Laglio, a 36-apartment lakeside complex was put on the market recently with prices from Euro 137,600 to Euro 400,000 for a two-bedroom property. Some 10 miles north, in Lenno, you can find a new-build flat for just Euro 165,000. Meanwhile, in nearby Tremezzo, Euro 250,000 should cover a lake-view two-bedroom holiday apartment.

There are even better bargains as you head north. Areas on the north-west coastline such as Pianello Lario, Musso and Dongo are a great alternative if you want to spend less than Euro 250,000.

In Pianello Lario, a development of lake-view properties 600 yards from the water's edge and complete with pool has one-bed flats from just Euro 110,000. Given the proximity of the Alps rental potential is excellent, up to around Euro 3,500 a month. The village of Gravedona, some four miles away is cheaper still. Here, expect to pay a little over Euro 100,000 for a two-bedroom lakeview property, albeit you may have to settle for being slightly away from the water.

Lake Como has drawn superlatives from visitors from all walks of life almost since time immemorial. The Roman writer Virgil it was Lake Lario in his day referred to its beauty. A few decades on, Roman politician Pliny The Younger owned a couple of villas here. Shelley wrote in glowing terms about how it "exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty". And author Henry James was left spellbound as he said: "One can't describe the beauty of the Italian Lakes, nor would one try if one could."

It's easy to see why. This is Italy's third largest behind Garda and Maggiore and is 56sq miles of tranquil blue water bordered by mountains and woodland, a picture postcard of superb beauty.

The scenery is marvellous from almost every step of the 180km coastline. But it's hard to beat its middle section where the lake breaks off into two forked lengths, one ending in Como, the other Lecco. Bellagio is known to Italians as The pearl of the lake and many people in these parts argue there is no town more stunning in all Europe. Stroll down its charming medieval lanes, gazing at the view, or take a ferry to Menaggio or Varenna, the snowy Alpine peaks towering majestically in front of you, and you would think likewise too.

Lake Como is served by six airports: three in Milan and others in Verona, Brescia, and Lugano, Switzerland.
The author works for Italy property website Homes and Villas, who advertise 3,000 homes throughout Italy. Her areas of expertise include Sicily propertyand luxury Tuscany property.

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