George Clooney‘s Italian villa on the shore of Lake Como has always been a celebrity hotspot (his Hollywood friends like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon are frequent guests, portions of Ocean’s 12 were shot there, and John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were even married there). Yet in the past year the exclusive and near-legendary status of the Italian compound, officially known as Villa Oleandra, has shot up by virtue of (on separate occasions) hosting both Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and Michelle and Barack Obama, perhaps two of the most in-demand power couples in the world. Most people stress out about hosting their mother-in-law once a year over the holidays, but George and Amal apparently aren’t breaking a sweat when it comes to hosting global figureheads.
The separate visits did have some distinct differences. Prince Harry and Meghan’s visit, which reportedly took place in August of last year, didn’t even become public knowledge until after it happened. The Obamas’ visit, however, was announced in advance, and despite the special security measures taken, has been by comparison highly documented.
“The Clooneys had personally invited Meghan and Harry to their home at the beginning of the summer with an open invitation,” a source told Us Weekly at the time about the Sussexes’ visit. “Harry and George have a special bond and friendship.”
Clooney reportedly flew the couple out on a private plane. “They spent the entire weekend at their home and enjoyed the privacy and security the Clooneys had for them there,” added the source.
And while local police were aware of the visit and on guard to provide extra security for the royals, paparazzi didn’t manage to get a snap of the still-kind-of newlyweds. The couple apparently met the Clooneys’ twins for the first time, and Harry and George enjoyed a game of pickup basketball and toured George’s motorcycle collection.
“We live not too far from one another and we have dinners and stuff and we’re friends with them for all the reasons that you’re friends with anybody,” Clooney told the Daily Mail about his friendship with the duke and duchess. “They’re just really nice, fun, kind people. They’re a very loving couple, and they’re going to be great parents.”
Indeed, as the Clooneys also keep a home in London (where Amal maintains her law career), they’ve managed to maintain a low-key friendship. The Clooneys reportedly dined at Frogmore Cottage earlier this month.
The Obamas’ visit was more than pleasurable, we’re sure, but didn’t seem to go quite as smoothly as the Sussexes’ had.
For one, the mayor of Laglio, the small community where the villa is located, announced the visit to the press beforehand. Though President Obama is no longer in office, like all ex-presidents, he still travels with a Secret Service detail that makes his travel more conspicuous than even a member of the British royal family. The mayor announced that a 300-foot “buffer zone” would be placed around Clooney’s villa during the visit, which also meant closing a public parking garage across the street.
Thanks to the advanced warning, the international press has been on high alert for any gossip coming out of the visit. TMZ managed to procure pictures of George and Barack on a dock and the families eating dinner, while—an even more minute but quite enthralling detail—a local plumber has spoken out about his last-minute visit to the villa ahead of the former first family’s visit.
Apparently, shortly before the Obamas arrived, the Clooneys realized that their pool was freezing cold and only half full.
“What a race. I arrive and they are all upset. [Clooney’s bodyguard] Giovanni says to me: Hurry up, hurry up!” the plumber, Dante Penne, told a local newspaper, according to The Daily Beast. “Let me work, otherwise I won’t be able to fix it.”
Thankfully, the plumber was able to sort out the problem.
While the Obamas didn’t seem to have the ironclad privacy of the royals, at the end of the day, their visit was connected to a good cause. They were there to attend a charity dinner for the Clooney Foundation for Justice.