I had enjoyed many vacations in Europe, but my vacation to Lake Como was unlike any other. It seemed that the water was bluer, and the sky was heavenly. With the sun shining on the lake, and the mountains looming in the background, no wonder one long ago traveler described it as “A wonderful world within the world.”

A Wonderful world indeed. Lake Como, also known as Lario is the jewel of Italian lakes.

Sitting atop a double-decker boat, my cares and worries were left far behind as we passed quaint village after village dotting the lake.

One look from the boat and you could readily see why Lake Como is the playground of the wealthy throughout Europe. Not a single village around the lake looked run down. Here and there were spread the finest looking villas in Europe.

The boat dropped us off at Tremezzo, a quaint village of 1300 people, and home to Villa Carlotta.

I marvel at the beauty and the architecture of Tremezzo, with over 90 percent of the city edging the water on the lake.

It’s hard not to get distracted by the lovely shops and places to eat but my destination is clear, I am slowly but deliberately headed to the Villa Carlotta. Although much smaller, the Villa Carlotta reminded me of the opulent Hearst Castle in California.

Although the 17th-century villas was truly beautiful, it was the gardens that took my breath away. With 20 acres of orange and camellia trees, there are 150 varieties of azaleas situated on the slopes.

With so many flowers as well as truly lovely fountains, naturally, the grounds surrounding the Villa attracted hundreds of birds dancing in fountains.

Surrounding the fountains were amazing, lifelike statues that were so finely crafted they seemed ready to come to life.

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Naturally swimming and sunbathing were part of my journey. The beaches surrounding Lake Come are often narrow and rocky, but there are spots such as the lovely Lido di Argegno that is fully loaded with sand, sunbeds, and even a swimming pool.

I, like most others, however, opted to swim in the lake. The water temperature in Lake Como can be a bit nippy, but in July, the average lake temperature is around 70 degrees, and the surrounding daytime temperature is around 74, which makes it absolutely perfect for bathing or sunbathing.

As to the water cleanliness, Lake Como is the deepest lake in Europe and is remarkably clean. I have never swum in a cleaner, more refreshing lake, made all the more delightful by the delightful villas as well as the distant mountains in the background.

My visit to Lake Como was the vacation of a lifetime, which sadly ended way too short for four days of sheer relaxation, swimming, shopping, and eating at some of the best restaurants in Italy.

If you have a chance to go to Europe, I strongly recommend Lake Como as a stopover.