Italy George Clooney
George Clooney’s love affair with Italy goes back to 2002, when he purchased a lavish villa on the shores of Lake Como as an investment. Nearly two decades later, the movie star has done more than just appreciate the scenic beauty of the country’s northern reaches — he’s gone on to embrace all aspects, and corners, of the country.
These days it’s not uncommon to see candid paparazzi shots of Clooney and his powerhouse wife, Amal Alamuddin, sipping on Italian wine, buzzing around on vespas and swirling pasta with A-list celebs at the country’s best establishments. The couple even hosted their glamorous wedding in the country, and have welcomed royalty to their Lake Como estate.
Nothing Clooney does in Italy is done in half measures; the movie star cash affords him a particularly opulent lifestyle. And yet in spite of his full embrace of la dolce vita, he’s unsurprisingly handled it all with his own inimitable, and somewhat aspirational, sense of grace and style.
Here's how to enjoy an Italian adventure with that patented Clooney panache.
Live the Villa Life
There’s nothing quite like a grandiose Italian villa to set the tone for an extended stay in the country, and Clooney’s incredible 25-room home in Lake Como ticks all the right boxes.
Clooney reportedly bought his villa for a cool $10 million as an investment. Today, it’s rumored to be worth 10 times that amount, and most similar properties in the area cost well outside what most non-Hollywood-stars can afford.
If you want to emulate the George Clooney villa lifestyle without the huge capital outlay, you’re probably better off renting a property. Fortunately, there are several AirBnb options available in Lake Como for a fraction of the price, most of which you can easily fill up with friends and family.
Explore Lake Como
Italy’s Lake Como was famous before Clooney snapped up a portion of the pricey real estate on its shores. The resort town has been a destination for the world’s rich and famous for decades, and it’s still one of the country’s top tourist spots.
Lake Como’s popularity is mostly to do with its dramatic scenery — it’s set between snow-covered Alps and pristine waters. Add in the historic charm of ancient Italian villages, and the realistic chance of spotting a celebrity in a local coffee shop, and you can see why the town welcomes throngs of revelers.
Boat tours on the lake will get you close to Clooney’s villa, and restaurants are quick to showcase any past visits by the star and his family. But if this seems a little tactless, consider instead a simple stroll through Clooney’s favorite Lake Como village of Cernobbio, home to a gorgeous lake promenade and a collection of quintessentially Italian bars, restaurants and shops.
Host a Lavish Venetian Wedding
Perhaps the ultimate, albeit slightly creepy, way to follow in the Italian footsteps of George Clooney is for couples to recreate his and Amal’s dream destination wedding in Venice. The movie star and lawyer spent several days exploring the city in style, before marrying at the ultra-posh Aman Venice Canal Grande.
To host a Clooney-inspired wedding at the hotel, go all out by splurging on a string orchestra, a cameo performance from Lana Del Rey, served champagne and caviar in the secluded garden, and a lavish five-course dinner in the hotel’s main library.
Is none of that even remotely feasible? Ditch the wedding and book a night at the hotel instead; rates start at $1,100. Or scale back even more by grabbing a cocktail at the property’s Italian restaurant Arva.
Soak up Romance in Rome
Rome has worked its way into the hearts of most who’ve visited it, and the Clooneys are no exception.
George visited the city on several occasions prior to his marriage to Amal, and has been spotted in the popular celebrity hangout Antica Pesa, known for its sublime Italian cuisine and gorgeous frescoes. More recently, the couple dined out together at Dal Bolognese, a stalwart that’s been in the same family for three generations.
If you can afford it, fork out for a hotel like the St. Regis or Hotel de Russie, where the cast of “Ocean’s Eleven” stayed while shooting the movie there.
Go on a Fashion Frenzy in Milan
The style capital of the world, Milan, is possibly the best urban match for the movie star. Unsurprisingly, Clooney’s been spotted there several times, and his association with the city grew even more when he testified in a court case against three designers accused of exploiting his name.
If you’d like to explore Milan the George Clooney way, make sure your trip coincides with the legendary Milan Fashion Week, where he’s made regular appearances in the past.
If that’s difficult to arrange, you could always make a turn at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest active shopping mall, where the star has also been seen. The glamorous mall is worth a visit even if you’re not looking to pick up high-end Italian fashion.
As far as Milan dining goes, the city’s A-lister restaurant Da Giacomo is a Clooney favorite. It’s often full weeks in advance, so as a non-celebrity you may have to settle for Giacomo Bistrot next door.
Swan Around Sardinia
Sardinia is one of Clooney’s favorite Italian escapes. The island, located in the Mediterranean, boasts more than 1,200 miles of coastline and has been a popular tourist destination since the 1950s. The couple lived in Sardinia last summer as Clooney began shooting the Hulu television series “Catch 22.”
The couple jetted in to Sardinia on a private plane, but if that’s a little over budget, it’s cheap enough to reach the island by ferry or regular airline. And once there, it’s easy to tone things down a bit — most of the island’s action takes place on the beach. For dining, consider the Clooney favorite Il Portolano in Porto San Paolo.
See the Pope in the Vatican City
When you’re George Clooney, going to the Vatican City means meetings with the pope itself. The star is an ambassador for Pope Francis’s “Scholas Occurrentes,” working to promote the foundation’s arts projects.
Of course, the likelihood of your own one-of-a-one meeting with the pope is slim, but you can see His Holiness by attending a Papal Mass or Papal Audience at St. Peter's Basilica (alongside, granted, thousands of other worhsippers).
And of course, catching a glimpse of Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel is a humbling experience, and well within the grasp of visitors to the city.
Relax in the Italian Countryside
If the chaotic cities start to tire you out, you can make like George and Amal and head to the Tuscan countryside. The region is known for its wine estates, stunning villas, achingly romantic views, and regular visits from the world’s rich and famous.
The couple took an extended, and unsurprisingly extravagant, vacation there in 2015, visiting the towns of Cortona, Poggio and Chianti. They cruised the rolling hills in a classic Fiat 500 and a vintage vespa, making stops at wine estates and restaurants along the way.
Pit stops included the Monte Bernardi wine estate and fine-dining establishments Cantinetta di Rignana and Locanda di Pietracupa.
Zip Around on a Vespa
Even though he’s perpetually tailed by photographers and has a garage full of luxury motor vehicles, Clooney still regularly participates in one of the great Italian pastimes — riding a classic scooter around town. Beneath the helmet he’s sometimes able to escape the prying eyes of the media, but he’s often been snapped zipping between traffic in Italian cities, sometimes with wife Amal on the back.
Clooney’s scooter riding habits hit world headlines when he had a dramatic head-on collision with a car in 2018. A nearby surveillance camera captured the footage of Clooney flying into the air and landing on the sidewalk. He suffered only minor injuries, and he’s yet to be photographed on a scooter since.
In spite of the risks, journeying around on a vespa is one of the best ways to explore Italy, and with scooter rental companies throughout the country offering competitive rates, it’s also perhaps the most attainable Clooney habit.
Clooney’s love for coffee was cemented when he became a brand ambassador for a popular coffee-pod company. The star has since appeared as himself alongside a selection of Hollywood heavyweights in a run of big-budget, self-deprecating commercials, often set in Italian villas not dissimilar to his own.
Although the most Italian way to enjoy coffee might be to knock back an espresso at the bar of a bustling cafe, Clooney has largely done away with that notion in his own life. To enjoy an espresso like the star, all you’ll really need is an Italian villa, a large balcony with panoramic views, and a humble coffee-pod machine sitting on a glass table inside.
Feast on Italian Food
Although Clooney’s commercial commitments may keep him from spending too much time in cafés drinking other peoples’ coffee, he’s made no such limitations on his restaurant habits. Clooney has eaten his way through the country’s top establishments, from Venice’s traditional Ristorante Da Ivo to the legendary Harry’s Bar, a rumored favorite, which has locations around the country.
The area surrounding Clooney’s home is also a food-lover’s paradise. Nearby farms produce cheese, honey, milk and a selection of wines that make it the ultimate foodie destination. If making your own dishes with these ingredients sounds like too much work, and a private chef is a bit outside your budget, you could always head to a local Lake Como restaurant instead.
Book a table at the posh Il Gatto Nero or the in-house restaurant at Villa d’Este. Both serve high-quality local dishes, and boast regular sightings of the movie star.
Embrace Italian Fashion
If you are to explore Italy like the Clooneys, it’s important to look the part.
Amal is known for wearing only the best Italian designers, including Giambattista Valli, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, while George tends towards Giorgio Armani tuxedos when gracing red carpets.
If getting decked out in fancy Italian designer suits isn’t possible, a walk through the doors of any of the iconic designer stores throughout the country may just suffice. Fashion meccas include Venice, Rome, Florence and Bologna.
Looking for a more simple look? The actor also knows how to explore the country’s sights in practical attire, shirking the designer labels for t-shirts and jeans. When the moment calls for it, even Hollywood mega-stars will opt for something they’d be alright getting fresh tomato sauce on.