Balancing City Life in Milan and Lakeside Living at Lake Como – On the road to Bellagio in the village of Onno at Lake Como, the Villa Ucci Luxury B&B sits embraced by a lush green estate overlooking a private beach, the pre-Alps and the mirror-like waters of Lake Como. We met Danilo and Martina of Villa Ucci Luxury B&B, the eclectic couple who have found the perfect balance between urban city life in Milan and lakeside living at Lake Como.
Danilo and Martina were both living in Milan, had the same friends and attended the same gallery openings, but their paths never crossed until one day when a mutual friend introduced them at a party.
Martina explains “For about ten years we patronized the same places and even had the same friends, but we never met. We immediately hit it off and shortly after, we were living together. I guess you could say it was love at first sight.”
Danilo shyly smiles and shrugs his shoulders as if to say, “Of course, I couldn’t help it!”
Martina is a long-legged blonde with piercing blue eyes. Her Slovakian cheekbones were featured in the glossy pages of international fashion magazines and her elegant frame walked the runways of Milan and Paris. She traveled the world from Europe, to Asia to South Africa for fashion shoots and as a spokes-model for MotoGP Gran Prix Racing. Today, she works in sales at the Red Valentino showroom (the young and edgy ready-to-wear line of Valentino) and deals with international retail locations, particularly Russia.
“I was lucky,” she explains, “I was in the right place at the right time. I was first a showroom model and then moved over to sales. When I started at the showroom the Russian market began doing more business with Europe and I spoke the language. I first started in the accessories department and then clothing and fashion. I’ve been with the company ever since.”
Working in fashion sales is an intense job but nonetheless, seasonal. Martina talks about the long days, “We do training before each collection is presented. We need to know about every detail and be prepared for any questions the customers may have. We are briefed on the details, characteristics, materials – all the technical aspects of what goes into making a new collection.”
Between showroom sales seasons, after the sales are concluded and the last hanger is hung, Martina and her beloved Jack Russel Dite, join Danilo at Villa Ucci in Onno at Lake Como.
Villa Ucci was Danilo’s grandmother’s house built in 1907 on the family estate. It was the house where his mother grew up and the house where he and his sister spent carefree summers chasing butterflies and swimming in the cool waters of the lake. “Ucci” is his mother’s childhood nickname.
“We lived in Milan and we’d come often to visit Nonna and spend time in nature,” Danilo said, “my mother still comes to putter in the garden, she’s got the green thumb of the family.”
His sister lived in the house until moving abroad, leaving the house unused. The house remained empty until a friend made the offhand suggestion to transform it into a B&B. It wasn’t an idea that had ever crossed his mind but the more he thought about it, the more he liked the prospect of not only living at the lake, but also sharing this little piece of paradise with people from all over the world.
“We opened two years ago, and we’ve had people from America, Germany, England, Russia… so many different places, who have stayed with us. Our guests have been really pleased. The guests eat together at a large breakfast table where they meet and exchange travel tips and experiences. Travelers that come to our B&B are open minded and really enjoy the family atmosphere.”
Danilo traded a life of working in finance and industrial investments for a quieter slower life at Lake Como. Although his days are filled with the daily management and maintenance of the villa, garden and guest relations, his quality of life has significantly improved.
“Onno is a village, part of the Olivetto del Lario community. We’re close to Bellagio and Lecco, but right here in town we have a mini-market, some wonderful restaurants, beach access, boat rentals, the public ferry and bus stop and a charming town center. This is my little corner of paradise.”
Martina, on the other hand, still loves her life in Milan and splits her time between the city and lakeshore.
She tells me, “I love living in Milan. I like the cultural aspect. I live in a great neighborhood and I can walk into the center of town. I love the cinema and music and going out to restaurants. I’m not ready to live here full time, but I fully enjoy my time here. I come here to relax, on weekends and during the vacations. I’m also an extra pair of hands to help when I am here, its not all rest and relaxation.”
In addition to a love of fashion and style, Martina has a secret passion for baking; especially muffins and cupcakes! When Martina is on-site, the breakfast table is full of goodies and the house smells like a bakery.
“I like cooking, but I love baking muffins. A muffin is like a small cake. I can make a variety of muffins and never get bored! I love experimenting with different flours and fillings. I have a cookbook with 700 different recipes! I also like cupcakes. When I visited New York, I became obsessed with cupcakes. I photographed every cupcake I found!”
Occasionally, Danilo will join Martina in Milan. Although they have been together for over 10 years, living apart part-time works for them. Danilo said “It’s almost as if we’re still dating. It works for us. We both have our space and can manage our time as needed. The time spent together is treasured and appreciated.”
Danilo and Martina have been able to create an authentic, welcoming atmosphere at the villa. The villa itself has been restored and the three bedrooms have been styled and furnished with modern comforts while keeping many of the traditional family heirlooms and artwork.
A truly hidden gem, the Villa Ucci Luxury B&B has three rooms for guests, but it is also a beautiful location for special events, weddings, garden parties, corporate events or other occasions.
Located 8 km from Bellagio, Villa Ucci Luxury B& B has a 9.8 rating on Booking.com and is easy to get to by car from Milan on the SS36 to SP583 (Via Garibaldi) or by public transportation by train to Lecco (39 min. from Milan) and then a local bus to Onno.
The other towns and villages of Lake Como are accessible by ferry or bus.
Villa Ucci Luxury B&B
Via G. Garibaldi,141
Onno LC (Italia)
Tel. / WhatsApp: +39 3756172302
Villa Ucci Luxury B&B is perfect for:
- Friends traveling together
- Romantic weekend getaway from Milan
- Special events and occasions
Article written by Celia Abernethy , photos courtesy Villa Ucci
|Ciao!I’m Celia, your friend in Itlay! I’d be happy to share my insider tips and help you save time planning your trip to Milan & Lake Como. [Contact me]|