It was the Romans who discovered Lake Como, and built their villas overlooking its stunning scenery. Today, the Mediterranean microclimate created by the lake’s waters is enjoyed as much as ever, though many now prefer an apartment in place of a villa. Aside from the views across the lake, and the uniquely benign climate it bestows on the area, the location has other attractions. To the north and west are snow-capped mountains and the border with Switzerland, while not far south is the bustling city of Milan.
Shaped as an upside down Y, the lake starts in the north at Colico, then splits near Menaggio with an eastern branch extending down to Lecco and the western finger having Como at its southernmost tip.
Property prices in the area are such that buyers generally purchase a home around the lake to actively use it, rather than purely for investment purposes. And while the Italian market has suffered, Lake Como retains an international appeal, meaning prices have been more or less resilient.
“We saw the Americans pull right back,” says Rupert Fawcett of Knight Frank’s Italian office, “but they have recently returned in strength. We’ve seen an immediate and very strong pull back from the Russians, but I’m sure the Russian market will be back.” Meanwhile, the Brits are showing stronger interest again and several agents are tipping UK buyers for a resurgence of activity in 2015.
Fawcett notes that the outlays on owning Italian property are relatively reasonable, with low local taxes and no fears of other wealth taxes being introduced.
“The majority of the product is period,” he adds. For those needing more space, there are villas on the market, while apartments are usually created from splitting larger old buildings. In such a setting, redevelopment sites are hard to find, but on rare occasions there is the opportunity to build new homes, such as those at Como Lake Resort.
Perched on the lake shore, the 13 apartments in the development near Cernobbio are arranged in two linked blocks, each angled to make the most of the views. The quality of the building and interiors is very much pitched at international buyers, says Fawcett, while the blocks offer a mix of shapes and sizes of apartments with between two and four bedrooms. Located on the western branch of the lake, they are just 30 kilometres from Milan’s Malpensa airport, and 10 kilometres from Como town.
Designed for lake enthusiasts, the apartments have lift access to a private boathouse beneath, with the capacity for dry storage, as well as space to tie up alongside. Cars are accommodated in three levels of parking directly off the Regina Highway at the rear of the site, accessed via two vehicle lifts. Residents share gardens, an outdoor pool and their own small private beach.
“Sales have been to an eclectic mix of nationalities,” says Fawcett. More than half of the 13 apartments are already sold, with those remaining priced between €1.2m and €2.8m. The views, however, are priceless.
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