• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

George Clooney: the treasure of Laglio

Angela Giuffrida · 29 Aug 2013, 17:53

Published: 29 Aug 2013 17:53 GMT+02:00

Was it love at first sight for George?

Not quite. Of course, he liked Italy at least enough to pay a reported €11.7 million for Villa Oleandra in 2002. He initially just saw it as an “investment” and a place to maybe “spend a few weeks each year”.

But the Italian way of life soon captured his heart, with Clooney once saying that the purchase “changed my life in a very pleasant and unexpected way...I realized how beautiful life was in Italy and how it really helped calm me and not feel so pressured.”

And was the love from Laglio reciprocated?

It would appear so. The 900-stong local population is fiercely protective of “their George”. As soon as former mayor Giuseppe Mantaro realised the impact having the actor and his A-List pals in town had on the local economy, he set about making him an honorary citizen.

“Mr Clooney has done so much in the way of putting us on the map,” Mantaro said.

“Before, if you typed Laglio into an internet search engine it would ask you if you meant Luglio - meaning July in Italian.”

The locals are equally protective about the women George gives his heart to, keeping a keen eye on who he brings to town each summer.

They were unimpressed when he dated Elisabetta Canalis, an Italian showgirl.

“I mean, who is she?” Jennifer Folloni, a barista in a bar down the road from Clooney’s villa told the Washington Post in 2011. Another woman referred to Canalis as a “velina”, a derogatory term for the scantily-clad women who parade around on Italian television.

Mayor Roberto Pozzi carefully analysed the break-up: “She was used to the party life in Sardinia. This tranquil­ity can become boring. You either love it or you detest it,” he told the newspaper. Clooney, on the other hand, was “more in sync with Laglio’s brooding soul".

Clooney’s privacy is also fiercely guarded. Pozzi last year declared that anyone, tourists and residents alike, daring to navigate within 100 metres of the coastline close to Clooney's home would be slapped with a fine.

But has Clooney’s relationship with Laglio always been plain sailing?

Like every true romance, Clooney and Laglio have had their ups and downs. He once led a campaign against former mayor Mantoro’s plans to build a parking lot and a bridge near his home.

Clooney and former girlfriend Stacy Keibler also once suffered a bout of food poisoning after eating at a local restaurant. “"Finally had a bad meal in Italy, our whole dinner party got food poisoning,” his ex tweeted at the time. But she stayed upbeat: “Oh well, at least I’m in Italy.”

What does he do when he’s in town?

When he’s not frolicking on his boat with the likes of Brad Pitt, Clooney’s favourite hang-out is the local branch of the famous Harry’s Bar chain.

But he also frequents less glitzy venues, a newspaper stand owner once said.

"He comes to Laglio mainly to recharge his batteries and wants to be treated like everyone else here...He likes nothing better than to pop into the bar for a quick drink and not to be treated like someone famous."

He has also used the location to shoot scenes for several films, including Ocean’s Twelve, as well as for his Fiat commercials.

Story continues below…

What kind of impact has Clooney had on Laglio?

Well before he came along, homes in the area were selling for €1,000 per square metre, now they’ve surged to more than €10,000. Local businesses have also boomed, with restaurants promoting themselves with a Clooney endorsement. Boat companies also offer ‘Clooney sight-seeing’ tours, but obviously not within 100 metres of his home.

Donatalla Versace has lived in the area for years but her presence doesn't seem to have made the same impression.

Will he keep his home in Italy?

There have even been several reports about Clooney selling his villa as he apparently no longer gets the privacy he craves. He even installed an egg-throwing machine in his garden, which hurled raw eggs at boats that got too close.

But alas, the talk of selling up comes to nothing, and each year he can be spotted happily cruising across Lake Como.

Angela Giuffrida (angela.giuffrida@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How we found each other through The Local Italy
Tom and Orna on their wedding day in Veneto in July.

Orna O’Reilly had been widowed for over 20 years before she moved to Italy’s Veneto region from Ireland in March 2013. A few months later, she met her future husband – via The Local Italy.

Video
Cat pulled alive from Italy's quake rubble after five days
Gioia is dehydrated but doing well. Photo: Facebook/ENPA

There were rare scenes of joy in earthquake-hit Amatrice on Monday, when a fortunate cat was rescued from the ruins of a collapsed home and returned to its tearful owner.

England 'keeper Hart jets in for Torino medical
Joe Hart is set to join Torino on loan. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

England goalkeeper Joe Hart is set to become the first English goalkeeper to play in Italy's top flight since 1930.

Romania PM is first EU leader to visit quake zone
Firefighters visit damaged houses in Accumoli on Monday. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos on Tuesday will become the first European Union leader to visit Italy since last week's earthquake, which left nearly 300 people dead including 11 Romanians.

Some 6,500 migrants rescued off Libya: coastguard
Handout photo from Italy's Red Cross after a rescue operation by Moas on August 15th. Photo: Yara Nardi/AFP

Around 6,500 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Monday, the Italian coastguard said, in one of its busiest days of life-saving in recent years.

Facebook donates €500,000 to quake-hit Italy
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (L) has given €500,000 to help the earthquake relief effort in Italy. Photos: AFP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told Italian students how the social media site gave €500,000 to the Italian Red Cross following Wednesday's devastating earthquake in central Italy.

Italy quake: homeless to leave tent camps next month
Some 2,700 people lost their homes in the quake. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

Those left homeless after Wednesday's devastating earthquake in central Italy will be moved out of their tent camps by the end of September.

Facebook CEO in Rome for chat with staff...and a jog
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in Rome on Monday for a Q&A with employees. Photo: Drew Angerer/AFP

The billionaire arrived in the Italian capital after spending a week in Lake Como, where he attended the wedding of Sofia and Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify.

Gene makes coffee-lovers full of beans: Italian study
How much coffee you drink could come down to your genetic make-up. Photo: McPig/Flickr

A groundbreaking study carried out in coffee-mad Italy has helped identify a gene scientists say could regulate our appetite for espressos and cappuccinos.

The incredible hero dogs of Italy’s earthquake
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

For 40 minutes before an earthquake struck central Italy in the early hours of last Wednesday, a pet dog, living with its family in Poggio Castellano, a hamlet near Amatrice, kept barking.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
2,499
jobs available