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Women Who Travel Podcast: An Italian Hotelier Living La Dolce Vita on Lake Como

LA: Kind of letting one discovery or purchase or antique kind of lead you onto the next thing that you were going to bring into the space.

VDS: Yes. So it was really like sometimes we really felt, “Oh, here we need something.” And then we were looking for something. But many other times, I mean we found something that we loved, we bought it, and then we decided where to put it.

LA: Describe for me walking into the lobby, like the first impression.

VDS: I mean, we don’t have a lobby first of all.

LA: Well great. Then walking through the door.

VDS: You walk into the main door and the first thing that you have to envision is this huge door like four meters tall that is made of brass, but it’s all handmade with little angels and plants and flowers. And probably it weighs like 2 million kilos and it’s been there for 250 plus years and it’s really incredible.

So first envision these doors that open to you. And you enter into a beautiful staircase and in front of you, there are incredible chandeliers that we have custom made for the villa in a very beautiful purple color that is in strong contrast with the yellow of the walls. So you have all these lights in front of you and the story, the history, and the colors, and this is the sense of arrival.

LA: I feel like villa means so many different things depending where you are. But in Como it’s a very specific type of building. Does it have grounds?

VDS: Yeah. So when you think about a villa, you think about something historical. So a beautiful and very impressive facade. So with a very elegant presence, first of all. Second, super important to me are the grounds.

LA: I know those grounds often have fountains. Could you describe what it’s like to walk through there and hear them?

VDS: Yeah, the sound of the fountains was one of the ingredients that I think really catched our hearts that day when we first crossed the gates of Passalacqua. Can you imagine being there surrounded by nature, beautiful century old trees. And then on top of that, you hear constantly, every moment of the day, the sound of so many fountains are all around you in every corner of the gardens. This is something that gives in your heart a sense of peace. So relaxing, so calming, it gives you a sense of nature. It gives you a sense of history as well, because fountains are historical. They’re not something that you can really find everywhere now. And so this is a very, very special feeling, let me say. I don’t know if I managed to describe it well.

LA: No, you actually really transported me there. Unfortunately, I’m on the 25th floor of the World Trade Center right now, but in my mind I’m walking through those fountains.