Hollywood goes Lariowood: The little destination that became a tourist town

Hollywood goes Lariowood: The little destination that became a tourist town

Lake Como, also known as Lario after the Latin name of the lake, has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times. Many famous people have had and do have homes on the shores of Lake Como. One of the most famous ones in our modern times is George Clooney who transformed the sleeping village of Laglio into one of the hot tourist spots on Lake Como.

What happened with the American Presidential visit? 

Former US President Barack Obama, who was supposed to arrive last Friday, postponed his trip to Lake Como until Saturday and arrived in pouring rain in the early afternoon with a convoy of 7 armored black cars, plus 6 additional cars with security  personnel, finishing off with a white lorry for the weekend luggage and  helicopter escort.

The family kicked off the star-studded vacation in Avignon, France, where they met up with U2 rockers Bono and The Edge. The American former leader, along with former first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia, 20, and Sasha, 18, visited the historic town of Avignon in Provence, according to the French wire service Agence France Press and London’s The Daily Mail.

The Obamas were friends with George Clooney long before Barrack Obama became the 44th President of United States of America. In an interview with ET (Entertainment Tonight), Obama said:

“The truth is we got to know each other because of a substantive issue,” then-President Obama told ET. “He is a terrific advocate on behalf of the people of Darfur and to the people of Sudan who’ve been brutalized for a long time.

“And so when I was a Senator — this was well before I was President — that was an issue that I was working together on a bipartisan basis, and George, who had traveled there, done documentaries there, and was very well-informed, came to testify in Congress. And so we got to know each other, and he is a good man and a good friend.”

Obama, who is a great fan of Latin America (in a statement at the WTTC summit 2019 in Seville) ,was truly overwhelmed by the beauty and charm of Lake Como. “It is  breathtakingly beautiful,” Obama was reported to have said.

The Obamas  went out Saturday night with the Clooneys, watching the traditional and fabulous fireworks of Isola Comacina, the only island on Lake Como, where heavy lightening had struck one of the cables in the early afternoon, and it was feared the lightening show would not take place.

With record high numbers of 20,000 people (19,000 in 2018) watching the fireworks starting at 10:30  pm, the Italian press reported that a short trip on a tiny boat and just around the corner was mounting in cost up to a sky-rocketing 1,500 euros – just on the rare chance of spotting the Obamas among thousands of little boats attending.

Stars and Stripes

A boat ride across Lake Como was just one of the stops on the Obamas’ glamorous European getaway. It included a Sunday evening boat trip to the glorious hotel Villa d’Este for a private dinner, which turned out to be not so very private, as the international media and television crews were hanging out hoping to capture the photo of the year or a great TV production that could have aired in the UK and the worldwide markets.

Former US President Barack Obama, left, takes a boat ride with actor George Clooney while on vacation Sunday, June 23, 2019, on Lake Como. Photo – Matteo Bazzi-ANSA via AP

This comes a year after the British television production company, Spun Gold, was in search for George Clooney for the television documentary, “How the Other Half Lives,” starring Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford on Lake Como, making that production more like “In search of George Clooney” while filming on the lake.

The amicable visit of the Obamas would have never come to light and most probably would have been very private if it had not been for Serena, a retired journalist working for the local newspaper La Provincia, who had first spread the news first which then days later ended up in Hollywood on TMZ , The New York Times, and The Daily Telegraph, to name a few, and made headlines on a global scale.

So what’s next?

This was more than just a friendship visit to Villa Oleandra, more than simply enjoying the magic of Lake Como, the Presidential baseball match in the private park, the jump into the pool, and more than the homemade dish of pasta cooked by Vivi, the private chef of George and Amal Clooney. The real reason for the visit could have been 2020 election talks, with a new candidate for the Democrats. It certainly would change the world, reckoned La Provincia.

For the Mayor Roberto Pozzi of Laglio (a commune of around 900 inhabitants), it was clear that this was more than a visit of friendship – it was a Presidential visit.

“George Clooney for Candidate for the White House.” It appears this is what the Mayor had in mind when he proudly posted on Facebook with the American Eagle Presidential Seal as a symbol. The Mayor declared he would stand behind this honorary citizen of Laglio in a run for the presidency.

“In any case, we will support him. Who else?” he commented on Facebook.

He strongly believes the legend of the mighty and powerful US citizen is happening in Laglio. Why? Because the Villa Oleandra has also been home to John Kerry (who ran for the US presidency in 2004) and who was the US Secretary of State. Kerry’s second wife, Theresa Heinz (heiress of Heinz Ketchup), owned Villa Oleandra and sold the villa to George Clooney in 2001.

YES, we can!

For Lake Como, the Obama effect has left taking the rainy and cloudy weather along with the departure. A day later, a soaring heatwave hit Lake Como with temperatures of 41 Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), guaranteeing free entrance to public swimming pools for the elderly. The week before, Como was flooded due to torrential rainfalls with roads closed and causing damage to the tune of 700,000 euro.

It appears there are some who believe former President Obama may have the ability to affect the weather. If that were so, would it be safe to assume that Clooney will put in a late bid for the 2020 US Presidency?

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