Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lake Como, Italy

When traveling to Italy, most people go to Tuscany or Rome or the Amalfi Coast. But Lake Como is a beautiful spot not to be missed!! The lake is nearly 30 miles long and shaped like a "Y" with gorgeous, elaborate villas dotting the shore. It's about an hour drive north of Milan (a little over 30 miles/50 km) or an hour train ride from Milan to Como (at the southern tip of one of the lake's arms). It's known as a weekend retreat for Italians and wealthy Europeans.  And it is by far one of the most romantic places I've been to. Nestled in the mountains, the lake has dozens of tiny villages one next to another built up into the hills that you can access either by car or by ferry. The scenery is simply breathtaking. And the food here was probably some of the best I've ever had. Fresh pastas and produce, delicious wines, decadent desserts. 

My favorite of the towns is Cernobbio, which is just 5 km north of Como. The town is beyond quaint and charming, and within a few days, you'll know all the locals! It is also home to the famous Villa D'Este, one of the most elegant and exclusive hotels in the world. In the small town itself, there are many little restaurants, cafes, boutiques and antique shops. Do not forget to take your own private tour of the lake. On the water right in town, you can rent a small motorboat with only your passport and an American driver's license! So Italian! You can ride around on the entire lake, get up close to the villas and take in the magnificent views. 

There are tons of other towns that have plenty of charm and character, however, I would say that Bellagio by far was the most touristy. Stepping off the ferry was somehow like walking into a town removed from the States. Practically everyone was American. And it is one tourist shop after another. I personally prefer a place that's more authentic filled with local shops and cafes, Italians and Europeans, much like Cernobbio. 

Here are my recommendations for Cernobbio. 

Villa D'Este - Simply a must-see. One of the most extravagant and amazing hotels and properties in the world. A perfect spot for a special occasion, whether it's a honeymoon or simply a celebratory dinner, or just an exclusive spot for lunch. Food is fantastic, service is white glove. Truly an insight into the life of aristocrats that have been vacationing here for centuries. 

Villa D'Este
Via Regina 40
22012 Cernobbio
Phone: +39 031 3481

Walk up to the tennis courts

Ravioli with freshly shaved local truffles

Harry's Bar - Located right on the water, wine selection is fantastic, staff very knowledgeable and friendly (if you are too of course!), and the pastas... well, literally the best I've had. Fresh truffles were in season when I visited, and were like a taste of heaven on freshly made pasta. I came here several times in my trip, it was so good! 

Harry's Bar
1 Piazza Risorgimento
+39 031 334 7057

That would be the freshly shaved truffles - to die for!

MdL - A great boutique filled with clothing from Italian, Spanish and French designers as well as home accessories and antiques. 

Via Regina 49A
Phone: +39 031 342 362

Tomasso Elli -- Gorgeous, exclusive antiques from all over Europe. Owner is extremely knowledgeable in history of each piece and so very friendly! Two locations -- one in town, one directly across from the entrance to Villa D'Este. 

Via Regina 93
Phone: +39 339 596 4363

La Piazzetta -- Gourmet shop with wonderful wines, meats, cheeses, salts, vinegars, oils. 

Via Regina 83

Pasticceria Poletti -- a great little pastry shop with great coffee, ice cream, sandwiches and obviously delicious pastries!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beware of Tommasso Elli. The man and his company are not reliable to deal with.