Homes on the Lakes



Michael Bennington owns a two-bedroom apartment on Lake Maggiore, in a converted fin-de-siècle period villa. He and his wife Sarah make regular visits there from their home in Cheshire, and offer weekly holiday rentals on the property at other times.
“Italy is where we first met!” Michael says. “Sarah was an art history student spending a year in Florence, and I was interrailing with two friends. My friends and I went nightclubbing on the last night of our three nights in Florence, and that’s when I first saw, and danced with, Sarah. My friends, Will and James, were later best men at our wedding! So Italy has always been special for us. We’ve holidayed all over, but we kept coming back to Lake Maggiore, and when we thought about buying a home in Italy, it was our first choice.
“We knew that there were cheaper parts of Italy, and that we could probably get a decent-sized house somewhere else for the price of an apartment on Maggiore, but this was where we wanted to be. It’s a beautiful area and it has everything we want.
“The apartment is on the first floor of a really pretty villa on the western side of the lake. Our living room windows look out across the lawns and gardens towards the water. I’ll never get tired of that view! The building is late 19th century, and slightly belle époque in style. It must have housed a grand family once, or more likely been their summer retreat. It’s been converted into four lovely flats. And the builders must have done a good job, because we never hear a sound from our neighbours! There’s a communal entrance corridor, and a pool in the back garden shared with all the other owners. We’ve become very good friends with one of the other families who have a flat here, another English couple with grown-up children. Getting to know them has only made owning this apartment feel more special and ‘meant to be’.
“We come out for three weeks every summer, and usually also for one week in spring, in autumn and in winter. The lake looks so different depending on the season you’re in – the colour of the water, the vegetation on the surrounding land, the quality of the light, everything. You become really attuned to the weather and the sky and how they affect the lake. Each season has its own kind of beauty. In the past three years we’ve started a tradition of spending Christmas and New Year at the flat, and that’s a really magical time here, with thick snow on the mountains and fireworks going off all round the lake at midnight. We love it.”