“I was riding a motorcycle through the Alps in June 2001, and my bike broke down. I knocked on the door, and they were nice enough to help out. The Heinz family owned it and offered to sell it to me. I said, “You think I have more money than I have.”
Surrounded by lush vegetation on a glacial lake near Switzerland, the 18th-Century mansion has 25 rooms and a pool. Clooney claims he doesn’t sleep in the master bedroom because it’s too big. He hosts dinner parties for friends when they’re in town and even used the villa to film scenes for his movie, Oceans 12.
“I bought it as an investment. I never liked the stock market—to me it’s Vegas without any of the fun parts, the girls in bikinis. I like owning dirt. You know, I spent a lot of time broke when I moved to California. So deep in my soul is still this idea of being unemployed. To me, owning land means you could sell it at some point and have money.”
Based in Laglio, a half hour from Milan, Clooney spends his summers absorbing Italian culture and enjoying the Italian way of life. He believes Italians have their priorities straight — after a day’s work, they take the time to enjoy their food and enjoy their personal life. They don’t subscribe to the workaholic lifestyle the way Americans do. “Italians have taught me about stopping to celebrate life,” Clooney explains.
“I love the way life is spent in Italy. It’s really nice to sit down and have a two-hour lunch, which the Italians do. I realized that I had spent probably 15, or 20 years standing up and shoveling food down my throat. It’s not about wealth; it’s about taking time and actually enjoying things. All of my friends think of this as their home. They come even when I’m not here. [laughs] There’s nothing that makes me prouder than this group of friends I’ve managed to stay very close to for a long, long time.”