The first time Mark Eley went on a family holiday to Lake Como he was smitten with the place, and after two more trips to this scenic corner of Italy, it was just a matter of time before he realised his dream of buying a home there.
Sure enough, in October 2021 Mark and his partner Amanda flew out to Milan to collect the keys to their new apartment on the western shore of Italy’s third largest lake. They had spotted their property, located in the picturesque Tremezzina district, on the website of local agency Lakeside Real Estate a few months prior, having spent the pandemic searching the internet from their home in Derby. Unable to travel out immediately and keen not to lose out to another buyer, Mark decided to make an offer from the UK.
“Obviously we already knew the area,” said Mark, a company director in his mid-50s. “The internet really helped – the listing on the agency’s website had excellent photos and I used Google Earth to research the local area. I was happy to agree a purchase price of €365,000, around €20,000 less than advertised, and pay a €20,000 deposit without actually visiting the apartment. The first time we saw it in person was the day we completed at the notary’s in October and it turned out to be even better than we expected!”
Being in the UK throughout the purchase process wasn’t a problem thanks to the support Mark received from his estate agent. He was even able to arrange a mortgage for his purchase, using the Italian bank they suggested to him.
Mark and Amanda’s apartment is in a modern two-storey block 10 minutes’ walk from the lakeside in the pretty village of Lenno. The living space includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open-plan living area and kitchen, and balconies with lake views at the front and mountain views at the rear. It also has its own garage and access to a communal swimming pool.
“As well as the lake, we can walk to bars, restaurants and other amenities, including the supermarket,” continued Mark, who has three adult children. “Every Tuesday there is a lovely fresh produce market in Lenno. It’s ideal for all of us and I think it’s great value given its fantastic location and when you consider that these days even in Derby two-bed flats are nearly £200,000.”
For Mark and Amanda, who is a keen cyclist, the appeal of Lake Como is about location and lifestyle. Surrounded by glorious mountains, they love the scenery and activities on offer on and around the lake. Plus, the fashion boutiques of Milan are just 45 minutes away, while around an hour in the other direction takes you to Alpine ski resorts, ideal for one of Mark’s sons who like to ski.
“We like to be busy,” continued Mark. “So we needed to be in an area with plenty happening and Lake Como has access to it all – walking, cycling, beaches, sailing, dining, shopping and skiing! And while there are properties geared to the rich and famous, there is actually something for buyers with more ordinary budgets.”
Before discovering Italy, Mark’s go-to destination for family holidays was the Lake District. It was a spontaneous decision one year to try somewhere abroad that also offered an outdoors lifestyle that led them to try the Italian Lakes.
“Unusually it rained for the first four days and the children couldn’t understand why I had taken them there,” remembered Mark. “I began questioning myself too. Then on the fifth day the sun came out and we decided to hire a small motor boat. We got to see what Lake Como was really about and it turned into one of the best days of our lives, one that we still talk about.”
On the fifth day the sun came out and we hired a motor boat and we got to see what Lake Como was really about. It was one of the best days of our lives.
Mark returned with just Amanda the following year, when they enjoyed exploring by bike, falling in love with the area even more. The family went back the next year to celebrate Mark’s 50th birthday, which is when he knew he wanted a second home there. True to his word, they’re spending as much time as they can there in their first year of ownership, with plans to offer it for holiday lets next year.
“It’s so easy to get out there,” said Mark. “Thanks to Ryanair flights from East Midlands to Milan being so cheap, the cost probably isn’t a lot different to driving up to the Lake District!”