Como: Before Clooney (B.C.) and After Clooney (A.C.)
8 May, 2017
Where is Como?
Como is a valley city in Italy, 40 km due north of Milan. It is also the administrative capital of the province of Como, in the region of Lombardy, which borders Switzerland. Como is known for many things, including:
- Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electrical battery
- Lake Como, around which the city was built
- The Alps, within easy driving distance, and
- Silk (more on that later)
A Little History Lesson:
The local dialect spoken in Como is Comasco, which has only recently, over the past 50 years of so, started to be replaced by the official Italian language.
Like any other province in Italy, Como has been invaded repeatedly, throughout history, by other provincial rulers and foreign powers, including Julius Caesar of the Roman Empire, Charlemagne of Germany, the duke of Milan, Emperors Francis I, Ferdinand I, and Franz Joseph I of Austria, and Napoleon of France. Como was not part of Italy until Giuseppe Garibaldi, who played an instrumental role in liberating Italy from foreign rule, united it with the rest of the country in 1859. As a legacy of this history, the people of Como––or Comaschi––have a very mixed heritage, reflecting a legacy of demographically uniting the Mediterranean and the rest of Italy to central and nordic Europe.
Accordingly, the local dialect, Comasco, reflects as many linguistic influences as there were invaders, with a notably stronger influence of French and German.
Living in Como
Select the video below for a glimpse of what life in Como looks like.
For information on city attractions, visit the official Como tourism website.
Economic Significance of Como
Ask any Italian what the key economic output of Como is, and the answer will come readily: silk. The silk economy of Como is a well-established symbol of the province’s productivity. Accordingly, silk products such as ties, scarves, and suits are astonishingly cheap to purchase in the province, if you know where to go.
Of note, as well, is the city of Cantu’, just a little further south of Como in the direction of Milan, where there is a famous cluster production of wood furniture firms.
As you may already be aware, George Clooney bought a villa in Como, or more precisely in Laglio, a small town near Como, in 2002, thus ricocheting the otherwise sheltered city of Como into the international spotlight, and along with it, its tourist traffic. Villa Oleandra is an 18-century villa purchased for just over $17 million, but currently (2017) being appraised at $131 million. A popular tourist attraction in Como is now a game called, Let’s Try to Find George Clooney’s Villa. Ask any tourist you meet about it, and they’ll likely fill you in on the progress of their Clooney Villa hunt. But you can do even better, if you’re really motivated (and rich): Clooney’s villa is available for rent for between $4,800 and $9,400 per night, depending on the time of year, with a 7-night minimum stay. Why stand outside and gape at the place when you can actually sleep on the same bed as George Clooney?
Clooney’s real estate investment in Como has also brought with it a boom in the filming industry, an increased presence of celebrities, and an increase in market competition (and prices) for lakeside properties.
I have never personally seen Clooney’s villa, or met George Clooney or George&Amal®, but if I ever do, I suppose I will tip my hat at him for bringing official recognition to the oyster that is the hills of Lombardy and the pearl within that is the incredible beauty and unassuming peacefulness of this remarkable valley city, Como.