I have always been a little bit star-struck, and have in fact, inadvertently, bumped into quite a few of them in my life. John Travolta at the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel in the ’80’s; Robert Redford at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the ’90’s, Tom Cruise and Glenn Close in the late ’80’s in Bedford,NY, where I lived at the time, and quite a few others. Each time, I felt a little twinge of excitement. I am a movie buff; nothing more.
When we told our friends about our trip to Lake Como this past September, the first thing almost everyone said, jokingly, was “Oh, you’re going to The Wedding?” Meaning, of course, George Clooney’s. We laughed and said, of course! We could only wish. We knew he had a place on Lake Como, but that was about it.
Well, we arrived at our hotel on Lake Como, the Villa Flori, as planned. It’s just up the road from the City of Como, on the way to Cernobbia, a small village, best known for the Villa D’Este. Typically, after our overnight flight from New York, we arrive tired and just want to crash for a nap. Then, we have a light supper, go to bed, and get up the next morning, refreshed and ready to go. No jet lag. Such was the case this time.
We asked the concierge at our hotel where we could go for a light supper, not too far away. She suggested a little place in Cernobbia. She said it was closer than driving into Como itself. She gave us directions and we were off. We couldn’t find the place she suggested, but after we had parked the car, we noticed another place that was teeming with people and looked festive. We walked in and got a table immediately. The place was called Harry’s Bar. We had a wonderful meal there and so our introduction to Lake Como was set.
The next night, we found the place that we had missed the night before. It was just a few steps away from Harry’s Bar. We ate there, but agreed, Harry’s Bar was much better. And so, after that meal, we walked over to Harry’s Bar and told the maitre d’hi we’d like to come back the next night around 8:00pm – but we wanted to eat inside, as I’m always cold.
We arrived at Harry’s Bar on September 5 at 8 as planned. The outside terrace was filled with people, as there was an international economic conference at the Villa D’Este right up the road, and apparently many of the attendees were dining at Harry’s Bar. We were graciously ushered inside to a small room, where we were the only guests. The room had only 4 tables, as well as the bar. The tables were 2 banquettes along the outside wall, separated by a hallway leading to the restrooms. We were seated on the left side of the room. The other side had a wall divider blocking the other banquette.
As we were the only people in the room besides the bartender and other staff members, we got excellent service and were bantering with the maitre d’hi occasionally. As we were nearing the end of our meal, the maitre d’hi came over to us and winked, “Good choice, eating inside tonite!” With that, immediately behind him, in walked none other than… GEORGE and AMAL!!!! I was so excited and nonplussed I could hardly finish my dessert!
They were immediately whisked to the other banquette behind the wall divider, so I’m sure they didn’t see us, and we didn’t see them except for that one brief moment as they quietly were ushered to their table. But suddenly, the music over the sound system got louder and more romantic. And just as suddenly, first one woman, and then another, and then another had to use the restrooms. I wonder why! They stopped and got glimpses of the beautiful couple, but I didn’t have the heart to gawk.
The maitre d’hi told us the famous couple came there often, and he even told us when they were getting married in Venice, even though he got the date wrong. But you could tell, the staff treated the couple with tact and discretion. I wanted to send George and Amal a glass of champagne in honor of their upcoming wedding, but Charles discouraged me. Nevertheless, as we were leaving, I asked the maitre d’hi to wish the couple well for us, and he said he would.
What are the odds of seeing George Clooney and his fiancee up close and personal right before their highly anticipated and impossibly glamorous wedding? It was so serendipitous, and it set the tone for the rest of our trip. Which, by the way, was fantastic. But never more so, than seeing George Clooney and Amal at Lake Como before their wedding.