The hotel oozes old-style charm. A 1900s townhouse in a quieter, less touristy part of the lake, it’s in the same street as the villa where DH Lawrence eulogised about the “milky lake” of Garda. The oxblood façade, with white relief and green shutters, is as striking as the view from the patio that overhangs the water; you can swim from here. Valerio’s grandparents had a piano shop in Milan and lived here until 1959; much of their furniture remains. The family could not be more helpful. Roomy bedrooms are wonderfully old-fashioned with big beds and wardrobes, 30s’ lights and polished terrazzo floors; beds are deeply comfortable and dressed in crisp cotton. Six rooms look onto the lake and have small balconies or terraces. The dining room, around a central courtyard with a palm tree that disappears into the clouds, looks directly onto the water. You can also dine upstairs on the open terrace, where metal tables and chairs are shaded by an arbour of kiwi – a magical spot at night, the water lapping below, the lights twinkling in the distance. There’s even a small music room with a piano to play – guests sometimes do.