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Lake Como

6 May 2014 8,282 views No Comment

There are many reasons to visit Lake Como – the scenery is incredible, the stars live here, there are watersports and heaps of hiking, the little towns are good for souvenir shopping. But we came for chatting and eating which Lake Como is also perfect for.

San Giovani

We were meeting in Como San Giovani and I’d arrived early so had a good chunk of time sitting in Restaurante Imbaracardo which has views out to the water and it’s on a piazza, so the people watching is fabulous. I could also see the funicular going up and down the hill, a tiny speck of red sliding in and out of the trees. The restaurant also did a great job with the cake and soy cappuccino, both equally appreciated.
Around the water’s edge there were lots of pizzerias and restaurants to choose from for lunch. We’d got brilliantly lucky with the weather – it was super sunny but with enough breeze to keep you cool. So it was buzzy and busy everywhere. We chose a restaurant based on the fact it had a free table, and it was a bonza choice – the service was lovely, and the food was spot on – great pizza, risotto and pear & chocolate cake.

Bellagio (west)

The Bellagio wharf is beautiful. In fact, Bellagio is beautiful. In fact the whole of Lake Como is beautiful, really it’s just stunning: hills rise steeply from the water making all the buildingsUntitled look tiny and creating real drama, the water is sparkly gorgeous, there are pretty colourful plants everywhere. And back to the wharf – there’s a little cobbled piazza lined with crumbling-walled hotels and sunshading restaurants, the mopeds are in a neat row and the Aperol spritzs twinkle in the sunshine. We stopped here for aperitivo and the following morning for breakfast. It was another people watching paradise and the breakfast hot chocolate was stand-your-spoon-up thick, glorious.

Bellagio is on the narrow tip of the peninsula that sticks out into Lake Como. From the water’s edge the town rises steeply up – cobbled steps and avenues all linked together – there’s a big property at the top of the hill that occupies a lot of land and which you have to walk around, and then the steps and avenues go down to the water on the other side. So it’s all hilly walking, but very lovely with vines & flowers trailing the brick walls, alley cats & mopeds crammed into the avenues, clear skies & higgledy balconies overhead. We passed lots of lovely looking restaurants while meandering, but were glad we held out for Ristorante La Punta which is right out on the tip of the tip of the peninsula, with a little harbour and a garden outside. The views were smashing – clouds rolling over the hills across the water, and it was a great restaurant – nice service, good menu. We all had prosecco, different delicious pasta dishes and good chat. Brilliant evening.

Bellagio (east)

IMG_1163The next day we continued over the hill (rather than in direction of the peninsula) to the ‘other side’. It was a gloriously sunny day and we sat by the water, dangling our feet, watching ducks and boats, so relaxing as the waves lapped the steps and shingle.
Here’s where we hit a massive jackpot. La Pergola is a little hotel and restaurant right on the waterfront, it’s all dark, cool stone inside, with a terrace next to the water covered with, yes, a pergola. This is one of those places that’s so beautiful, so special, you wouldn’t moan if they only served Marmite on toast, but as it is, the menu is delightful. Marie had a wonderful vegetable plate with a selection of frittata, salad and marinaded vegetables, then a brilliant cheese plate with honey and a melting chocolate cake to finish. Catherine had a lovely plate of bresaola with rocket and then cheese and olive salad. I took caprese salad, wonderfully fresh, and rigatoni with ragu of fish from the lake, done just how I like it (just fish, no seafood, nice pulpy tomato sauce), then spongy sweet apricot cake and coffee. We were in heaven. So we stayed in heaven, watching the different boats bob in and out and reading our books until the sun went down.

Varenna

I had arrived into Como San Giovani from Milan but we left via Varenna which is a much better journey. Varenna is a tiny place, a few services on by the wharf, hotels & restaurants occupying the streets behind and then a road trailing up to the station. From here the train line shimmies around the edge of the lake, with incredible views, and then powers through little towns to get to Milan. Definitely take this option if you have the choice.

This was a spring weekend, early summer at best, but we got very unexpectedly excellent weather. Everywhere we went it was busy – piazzas, stations, boats, restaurants. Not badly busy but makes you worry for summer when the crowds really pile in. But our break was superb and the little taste (s) we had of Como left a brilliant impression.

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