• Italy edition
 
Honorary Italian of the Week
George Clooney: the treasure of Laglio
George Clooney is in Italy this week for the Venice Film Festival. Tiziana Fabi/AFP

George Clooney: the treasure of Laglio

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

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
US soldiers charged over pregnant woman rape
Photo of Vicenza: Shutterstock

US soldiers charged over pregnant woman rape

Two American paratroopers charged with raping and beating a pregnant Romanian prostitute will stand trial in Italy, the justice ministry said on Friday. READ  

No Rome job for 'anti-Semitic' diplomat
Peter Szentmihalyi Szabo said he no longer wished to be an ambassador in Rome. Rome photo: Shutterstock

No Rome job for 'anti-Semitic' diplomat

Hungary's new ambassador to Rome - who once called Jews "agents of Satan" - stepped down on Friday amid mounting protests over his appointment. READ  

Half of Italians don't feel like EU citizens: report
File photo: Georges Gobet/AFP

Half of Italians don't feel like EU citizens: report

Half of Italians do not feel like citizens of the EU and 64 percent do not know their rights as EU citizens, a new EU report has suggested. READ  

Man sets himself alight 'due to quake trauma'
L'Aquila was struck by a devastating earthquake on April 6th 2009. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Man sets himself alight 'due to quake trauma'

A pensioner in L’Aquila burnt himself to death on Friday morning, leaving a note in which he described his torment following the city’s 2009 earthquake which killed 309 people. READ  

Italian men 'Europe's hottest': survey
Italian actor Raoul Bova. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Italian men 'Europe's hottest': survey

Italian men have been ranked Europe's most desirable, in a new survey looking at people's preferred nationality when it comes to finding their dream partner. READ  

Renzi slammed for 'coup' over Senate changes
Senate reform is a vital part of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s political agenda. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Renzi slammed for 'coup' over Senate changes

The Italian government has given MPs two week to agree on reforms to Italy's Senate, raising the stakes in the row over Italy's dysfunctional political institutions. A victory for PM Matteo Renzi could help him win the next election, one expert tells The Local. READ  

Italian family gets €1m over smoker's death
Photo of smoking: Shutterstock

Italian family gets €1m over smoker's death

A family in Milan is to be paid €1 million by a major tobacco company following the death of a father from lung cancer. The man had been a heavy smoker for forty years. READ  

Big Italian bank recognizes gay marriage
The employee benefit will be applied to couples who wed in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Big Italian bank recognizes gay marriage

Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s second-largest bank, has formally recognized the rights of gay newlyweds, going against a ban on same-sex marriage in Italy. READ  

Parliament staff's fury as wages capped at €240k
Parliamentary staff will still have the possibility to earn more than German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Parliament staff's fury as wages capped at €240k

Parliamentary staff saw their salaries capped at €240,000 on Thursday, a move met with rowdy protest by a number of workers. READ  

BSkyB to buy Sky Italia
Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

BSkyB to buy Sky Italia

British satellite television group BSkyB said on Friday it had agreed multi-billion-dollar deals with Rupert Murdoch's media empire 21st Century Fox to create a pan-European pay-TV giant. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Top 10 foreign films made in Italy
International
Ukraine tragedy hits Mogherini's EU hopes
National
'Life in Italy is not how I thought it would be'
Politics
Critics scramble to block Mogherini from EU job
National
'Italy's ginger gene spread from Sicily'
National
'Refugees can contribute positively to Italy'
Society
Hospital to obese patient: Go to a vet instead
Politics
Italy backs controversial Russian gas pipeline
Culture
Ten things tweeters love about Italy
Society
Italy: no place for pets?
Opinion
Why doctors in Italy refuse to give abortions
National
Italy's centre-right leader open to gay unions
National
Top ten reasons Italians hate summer
Politics
Italy under fire over its huge debt
National
Americans taught how to 'rap' Italian gestures
National
How does Italy compare to its EU neighbours?
International
The Italian explorer training astronauts
Travel
Top ten: Italy's gay-friendly holiday hotspots
National
1,900 children languish in Italy's adoption system
Sport
Suarez banned after taking bite out of Italy
Politics
'Europe is without soul': Matteo Renzi
National
Italy battles crescendo of corruption scandals
Society
'Cohabitation is worse sin than murder': priest
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

545
jobs available