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Lake Como's Film and Celebrity Connections
Lake Como’s breathtaking beauty and rich cultural heritage have made it a haven for aristocrats and wealthy tourists over the centuries. From poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley to composer Giuseppe Verdi and others, the lake has also held many famous authors, musicians, and other artists in its romantic thrall. It will come as no surprise then that Lake Como has in more recent years attracted some impressive film and celebrity connections.
The 1995 film A Month by the Lake, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Uma Thurman, was shot in various locations around Lake Como, including the spectacular Villa del Balbianello, a former Franciscan monastery that peers over the tip of a small peninsula on the southwest branch of the lake in Lenno. The villa was also seen in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, serving as the secret hideaway where Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala were married, and it was the place where Daniel Craig’s James Bond convalesced in Casino Royale. The stunning Villa La Gaeta, in San Siro, also featured briefly in the final scene of Casino Royale, when Bond shoots Mr. White. Ocean’s Twelve, starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt, included shots of the elegant Villa Erba in Cernobbio, which was portrayed in the movie as the estate of “The Night Fox,” François Toulour. In addition, Gwen Stefani shot the video for her song “Cool” around the lake.
Lake Como has also been the home or second home of a number of well-known celebrities, perhaps most famous of whom is the aforementioned George Clooney, who has owned the 18th century lakeside Villa L’Oleandra in Laglio since 2001. The picturesque small town has become somewhat overrun with fans and paparazzi in recent years, all vying to get a glimpse or photograph of the actor and his Italian girlfriend, Elisabetta Canalis. Other famous celebrities with homes on the lake include British billionaire and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, who owns a large villa quite close to Villa Balbianello, Muse front man Matthew Bellamy, Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, and the late fashion designer Gianni Versace, who used to reside at the Villa Le Fontanelle in Moltrasio.