We Stalked George Clooney
"Very social. Very charming. Amazing," says a young waitress. Gina asks if he's handsome. "Very handsome," she replies, blushing.
"He likes veal steak and risotto with truffles," says yet another waiter. "And molto vino rosso."
We're made for each other, I say to myself. Except that we're star-crossed. Right when I'm at his favorite restaurant in Italy, he's in the U.S. making a movie. Fausto arrives with a heavy stack of photo albums, each one crammed with photos of celebrities: Ernest Borgnine. Britney Spears. George Clooney with Matt Damon, with Michael Douglas, with Fausto. Clearly, George eats here often.
Our tiramisu arrives at the exact moment that a boom reverberates across the lake. Suddenly, the night sky is illuminated by a starburst of red and blue fireworks, followed by cascades of gold and spirals of green. "For George Clooney's wedding, maybe," jokes Fausto. They're actually for someone else's wedding at Villa d'Este, the swankiest hotel on Lake Como, but it's as if they were sent to light up our sky.
The next morning, we take a ferry to Bellagio for more shopping. The town is perfect for people-watching while sipping overpriced cappuccinos at one of its many outdoor cafés. We divide and conquer. Gina disappears down a skinny cobblestoned street, meandering in and out of shops that sell silk blouses and scarves. At La Tessitura, I buy myself an exquisite copper-colored shirt for $90 and my husband (did I mention that I'm married?) a pale-blue bow tie. By the time I meet up with the girls at Caffé Bar Sport by the ferry landing, we all have silk purchases to show each other. Over pistachio, hazelnut, lemon, and zabaglione gelato, we try to guess which flavor George would like best.
Back at the hotel, Simona hires a speedboat and a driver from Como Lake Boats to take us to George's villa the next day. The morning is bright and sunny, the lake a deep cobalt. It's easy to see why so many people escape here. "I know George," Ricardo tells us as we board his sleek wooden boat. "A nice guy. He always wave to me when I go by."
When we finally arrive at Villa Oleandra—it takes over an hour to get there—Ricardo stops the boat just close enough to shore that the four of us could conceivably swim to George's house. George actually owns three side-by-side villas on the lake. I can make out yellow flowers, an intricate stone wall bordering the lawns, and ocher-colored shutters. I didn't bring my binoculars, so I practically fall out of the boat searching for signs of life. Is George inside, peering out at me? I wonder to myself.
Then we hear the unmistakable sound of a helicopter. We wave and shout, all thinking the same thing: Is it him? The helicopter nears, hovers, and dips. A man pressed against the passenger window waves back. We shout louder. The helicopter drops lower, and we catch a glimpse of dark hair, a strong jaw, and a dazzling smile before the helicopter flies off.
The four of us stare at each other. If that was George, the helicopter would have landed at the villa. A small group of women on a speedboat surely wouldn't be enough to keep him away. Besides, the man who waved at us looked too thin, too young, and too interested in us to be George. I ask Ricardo to drop us off at Villa d'Este so we can sip limoncello and grappa on the same terrace where George likes to sip his limoncello and grappa.