I have been in love with Italy ever since I first visited Sicily a few years ago. Amazing scenery, wonderful wine and incredible food, what’s not to love. After that trip I knew that I had to go back and experience more and have since visited Florence, Tuscany, Venice and this weekend I ventured off to explore Milan and Lake Como.
We started the weekend in Milan, staying around 15 minutes from the city centre at this great Air BnB which was a bargain at only £50 per night. Based on recommendations from friends that had been to the city we headed for the Navigli area for the evening, which was a great choice. It was lively with heaps of bars and restaurants along the canal.
Where to eat in Milan
We settled on Officina 12 which was set in a beautiful building, with accompanying cocktail bar. Of course I went straight in for the seafood starting with the raw fish platter. This consisted of sea bream, prawns and tuna. Served up with a gin and tonic dressing it was a beautiful fresh start to the meal. However, I really wasn’t keen on the texture of raw prawn (I prefer the texture of a prawn ceviche when it is a bit firmer). Other than that it kicked off the evening well.
Next it was on to the main where I ordered the lobster pasta. As you would expect given the setting the pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce had a beautiful sweetness to it from the lobster. I just wish there had been larger chunks of the lobster as it did blend into the sauce a bit too much. Far too full for dessert we instead went to the accompanying gin bar and had a drink or two (or three).
Where to eat in Lake Como
On to Lake Como. On our first night, after a bit of a nightmare journey involving a tow truck, we headed to the local shop in the village we were staying in, Pognano Lario, to get some supplies. Whenever I travel to other countries I always get so jealous of the amazing produce some people have on their doorstep. In the equivalent of the village’s Costcutter (other corner shops are available) there was a huge deli counter with fresh meat, pasta, vegetables and of course seafood. We bought some marinated octopus, flavoured with olive oil, garlic and lemon for the equivalent of a few pounds and sat on our terrace with a glass of wine (relieved we had made it past the tow truck). We stayed at another Air BnB find which was great value and with lovely hosts.
On our first full day on Lake Como we went to Bellagio and were blown away by the town’s beauty. After some Trip Advisor research we settled on having lunch at Ristorante Carillon, convinced by its location next to the lake. The seafood pizza was the best I have ever had. Sometimes on a pizza the seafood can become chewy and totally lose its flavour but this was delightful. You could taste every individual type of seafood, and each was cooked perfectly.
On our last day we splashed the cash on a seafood platter at L’antica Riva in Como, enjoyed with a glass of wine whilst the sun set over the lake. When the plate arrived on the table we were relieved we had only ordered one (it was meant to be per person) as it was absolutely huge! The dish was absolutely stunning – a mix of local fish like perch and trout alongside langoustines and king prawns. This is the kind of food that sums up Italian cooking for me. Simple techniques and a small number of ingredients all centred around the quality of the produce. With a squeeze of lemon (and a sip of wine) a dinner doesn’t get much better for a Gills Gal.
All in all Italy won me over even more, and Lake Como in particular completely stole my heart. I already want to go back.