We Stalked George Clooney
We spend the next morning strolling through the open-air market in Como's Old Town. Gina, the expert shopper, quickly emerges with a pair of knee-high boots, a green paisley silk scarf, and hammered-brass earrings. Having worked up our appetites, we move on to La Fagurida. "No," says the owner before we even sit down. "George Clooney was here a few weeks ago, but he's shooting a movie in America now."
She fills our table with plates and plates of pickled vegetables, charcuterie, and bread drizzled with olive oil. What can we do? We drove a bucking Jetta along dangerously narrow roads to get here, but no George. So we eat. And eat. The place is perched on a hill so high that I wonder if it has supplemental oxygen. "Isn't that Donatella Versace's house?" asks Diane, pointing to a sprawling villa miles below.
"George does not hang out with Donatella," says Gloria-Jean, scrunching her nose.
Our next stop is Harry's for afternoon cocktails. The bar is on the lake, at the edge of a wooded park in Cernobbio. Children play soccer. Lovers stroll hand in hand. New parents push babies in elaborate carriages that look like props from a movie. My hair colorist back in Providence told me that George goes to Harry's at 6 p.m. almost every day. She had lived in Lake Como for several years and would often hear George and Brad Pitt riding their motorcycles late into the night. Her intel, we believe, is absolutely accurate.
We duck into a public bathroom in the park and slip into sexy black dresses and heels for the night. Just as we are applying our blush and lipstick, Diane's cell phone rings. "Hello?" she says.
The sound of a man's voice echoes across the room. It's the Italian from the plane! We all try to huddle close to hear him, but Diane shoos us away and steps outside. Her cheeks are flushed when she returns. "We're meeting in Milan on Monday," she says, as if she can hardly believe it herself.
"I love Italy!" says Gina.
We take an outdoor table at Harry's, under the lavender sky. A waiter brings us flutes of Prosecco with pomegranate juice, and we toast Diane and Fabio, George, and each other. The owner, Pietro, arrives at our table with an entourage of waiters and friends. "You are looking for George Clooney?" he asks. "He was here a few weeks ago. He ate squid-ink pasta. Such a nice guy!" Something catches his eye and he rushes off, returning with another well-dressed man. The two hug and shove at each other like middle schoolers. "This is Fausto, the owner of Il Gatto Nero," says Pietro. "He knows George."
Fausto beams at us when we tell him that we're having dinner at his restaurant. "I get the pictures ready," he says, bowing before he leaves. Gloria-Jean believes that we've broken into George's inner circle.
Il Gatto Nero is quite possibly the most beautiful restaurant I've ever been to. Antique cooking utensils and dozens of photographs of Fausto with celebrities cover the walls, candles flicker on tabletops, and there's a drop-dead gorgeous view of the lake from each window. Waiters and other diners whisper "George Clooney" as soon as they see us.
"He does not ask for special treatment and eats his meals with everyone else in the restaurant," says one waiter. "George Clooney is a very simple man."