Four Hours in Milano – Italy

On our last day of our six day Italian Lakes trip – we decided that after breakfast on the gorgeous private terrace of our apartment in Lezzano that faced the incredibly scenic Lake Como – we would drive to Milan and spend out last four hours in Italy there. We were flying from Milan Malpensa so it was perfect for us!

We parked up and walked through the little City to the Duomo Di Milano. The closer we got to the Duomo, there was much more of a hustle and bustle on the streets. We came up the very large square and we suddenly surrounded by tourist taking photos, street vendors selling selfie sticks and bracelets, tourists feeding pigeons, and behind it all stood the very grand Duomo facing us.

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The outside of the Duomo Di Milano

We got an overpriced coffee in one of the touristy coffee shops in the square over looking the Duomo (had to be done didn’t it?) and then went on a walk to find somewhere for lunch. We stumbled across a restaurant that was heaving with people on their office lunch break. Pizzas and pastas and steaks like flying saucers over everyone’s heads as the waiters and waitresses rushed around carrying them to the tables.

The food was good and extremely well priced and it was a really good vibe as the whole place was packed and everyone seemed like they were in a good mood chatting away. To be fair – I’d be in a great mood too if I actually got a proper lunch break at work everyday and there was a restaurant this cheap and tasty where I could take my time to eat!

Post eating we got out tickets for the Duomo and stood in line to get in. The line didn’t take long and soon we were inside the magnificently grand building.

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The grand pillars
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The beautiful architecture

We walked around the whole building trying to take in all the little details as well as appreciating the overall grandness of the architecture. The littlest details like the window paintings on every small square of glass, the carvings on each of the pillars and even the statues just added an intricacy to it all.

It is beautiful and I was truly in awe.

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Architecture
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The crypt
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Beautifully intricate and detailed window art

http://www.duomomilano.it/en/

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Stone House Restaurant – Lezzano, Lake Como, Italy

Lezzano is a quiet, rural, colourful little town right next to Bellagio – this is where we stayed during our visit to Lake Como.

We rented a little apartment with a terrace that faced the lake and right under our apartment was Stone House Restaurant, so on our last evening at Lake Como, after the last couple evenings of just ordering drinks to take over to the beach with us where we would sit and watch the sunset, we finally ended up eating here.

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Stone House Restaurant

The restaurant had a very rustic feel to it but also has a lot of subtle decor that relates to boats, ferries and sailing. At the far end of the restaurant there is a wine cellar which is full of wines from all over Italy.

I had a steak tartare starter as a main, Jack had a steak, and we shared fries and a side salad. It felt like a feast but because it was so delicious, we managed to eat it all and even went for an ice cream sundae for dessert!

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Steak Tartare
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Steak with peppercorn sauce
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Side salad
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Ice cream sundae for dessert

After dinner we took a stroll down to the quiet beach and it was breath taking to see all the towns lit up in clusters around the lake.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g664188-d10695484-Reviews-Stone_House-Lezzeno_Lake_Como_Lombardy.html

Ristorante Gatto Nero – Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy

The day we drove to Como Town, we decided it was too commercialised, touristy and not as beautiful a town as the others that we had been to, so we continued driving around the lake and ended up in Cernobbio.

Cernobbio is stunning town and is built on a fairly steep mountain so the views are amazing. We drove up, higher and higher into the mountain on a very zig zaggy, winding road and ended up at Gatto Nero.

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The view from the restaurant
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The best bread and bread sticks we had during our whole trip around Lake Garda, Lake Como and Milan – we ate the whole basket!!!

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It was Easter Sunday so there was an Easter Sunday set menu of six courses paired with four different wines.

The starters were a “potato foam” with truffle and crispy octopus in cauliflower cream and lemon foam, which came with Brut. The potato foam was much like a creamy potato soup with an earthy flavour from the truffles and the octopus was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth and it went well with the sweetness of the cauliflower cream.

Seconds were shellfish ravioli with cream fish roe sauce and a shitake mushroom risotto with milk chocolate shavings, which came with white Liguria wine. The shellfish ravioli was probably my favourite dish of all six courses. It had a fresh taste of the sea and I could have definitely just had a big dish of that and been very content. The mushroom risotte was nice – the earthy flavours of the mushroom and the subtle sweetness of the milk chocolate made the dish very rich and interesting.

 

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Our table
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Shitake and milk chocolate risotto
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Shitake and milk chocolate risotto

The main dish was roasted rabbit with roasted baby potatoes and a gravy sauce, which was served with a deep red wine. The rabbit fell off the bone, it was so tender, and the potatoes had a fresh sweetness to them.

For dessert there was an ice-cream-like dish with white chocolate, which was served with a dessert wine and some panettone of course – as it is a celebrations bread and it was Easter Sunday.

Unfortunately I am a picky dessert eater and I don’t often want dessert or crave anything sweet – and I really don’t like white chocolate – so they got a tiramisu for me instead, which was so lovely of them!

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Dessert
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Semifreddo – ice cream-like dessert with white chocolate shavings and caramel sauce
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Tiramisu for me

After almost three hours at the table, we took our coffees to the terrace to enjoy the view for a while before we headed back.

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Post lunch coffee on the terrace
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The view
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The view

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http://www.ristorantegattonero.it/en-gb/

Ristorante Bilacus – Bellagio, Como, Italy

To end our day of exploring Bellagio – we ended up at Ristorante Bilacus for dinner. Definitely make a reservation for the terrace if you are going here. We didn’t make a reservation but we were very lucky and someone didn’t turn up for their table (which had the most stunning view!) so we were able to sit outside on the terrace.

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view from our table – look at that mountain!
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Had to take this cheesy shot with that view in the background!
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I was not exaggerating about their love of bread sticks in the Italian Lakes

We started with a trio of seafood platter which had a fish pate, octopus salad and prawn cocktail and a meat platter which had a mixture of ham, salami and thinly sliced roast pork. Both were delicious!

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Seafood trio and meat platter to start
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The meat platter

For our mains we shared a Grilled King Prawns, a Prawn Linguine (needed a pasta dish as well but wanted seafood) and a side salad. It was all perfection and I am currently drooling as I write this and think back about the flavours.

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Grilled King Prawns
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Prawn Linguine
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Our feast for mains
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Tasmorcan Barbera D’Asti 2015 was gorgeous – recommended by the waiter

The service were great! There were the perfect amount of attentive but still left us to enjoy ourselves without pushing us to order or pay the bill quickly.

We shared the Panna Cotta for dessert – which was refreshing and light after all that food.

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Panna Cotta dessert
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The Terrace

It was honestly one of the most enjoyable dinners – everything from the service, the atmosphere, the food. I definitely recommend making a booking if you are in Lake Como.

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The Terrace

http://www.bilacusbellagio.it/index.html

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187834-d1228496-Reviews-Ristorante_Bilacus-Bellagio_Lake_Como_Lombardy.html

Adventures in Lake Como, Italy

After Lake Garda, we continued our long-Easter-weekend-Italian-Lakes trip in our little Fiat 500 over to Lake Como for the next three nights.

Lake Como is a beautiful, clean, clear lake just off the Alps which makes it stunningly scenic. The natural beauty of the lake along with the colourful, rural, mini towns situated around the Lake makes it like something out of a film.

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The ferry port in Lezzano
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The church in Lezzano
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View of Lezzano village from a Ferry

We stayed in Lezzano, a peaceful, rural, little town right next to Bellagio. It was honestly the most peaceful and scenic place I have ever been to. We would go down to the town store and get bits for breakfasts and it there were restaurants dotted around down by the Lake which you had to do some exploring to discover. There are no late night bars or big groups of tourists everywhere and it just felt very low key like the beautiful views were our own little secret.

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The view from the beach outside our apartment in Lezzano

Below are some photos from the apartment that we rented in Lezzano and our private terrace where we had breakfast with the most stunning view.

We spent our first day in Bellagio, which was a buzzing, colourful, little town that is situated on a hill so there are great views from the top of the town. It was lovely to explore and go in and out of all the little stepped alleyways, shops, and art galleries. We sat on the lake in the sunshine to have our aperitivo for a little break before continuing with our exploring, then finished off the day there with dinner and drinks.

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Beautiful Bellagio
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Gelato time in Bellagio
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Bellagio
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Bellagio
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Aperitivo at Bar Sanremo, Bellagio – sitting out in the sunshine on the Lake
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Bar Sanremo, Bellagio

On our second day we drove around the Lake to Como Town which was a very big, busy and beige town in comparison to the colourful towns that we had been to so far. We actually couldn’t find anywhere to park because it was so busy so decided to keep driving to Cernobbio. Cernobbio was beautiful and quite grand as a town.

We continued driving up into the mountainous village – up and up we drove up the teeny tiny winding road until we came to Gatto Nero for a 3 hour lunch, which I will talk about in my next blog post.

The drove back to Lezzano and spent the rest of the day in our quite, mostly private beach outside out apartment to watch the sunset before dinner.

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Watching the ferry leave us when we got off at Isola Comacina

On our third day we decided to go ferry hopping. We jumped the first ferry that came to our port and got off at the first place it arrived at – which was Isola Comacina – the only island on Lake Como.

It is a beautiful island with so much history. It was a commune for women years and years ago so we explored all the ruins there. The views all around us from the top of the hill in the middle of the island of the colourful villages across the waters were breathtakingly beautiful.

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Views from the top of the hill at Isola Comacina
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Back onto the ferry for more ferry hopping

We got back onto the ferry after exploring the island and it was really scenic and really relaxing just sitting outside on the ferry and seeing all the different, colourful villages along the way.

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Scenic ferry views
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Arriving in Torno

We decided to get off at Torno for a late lunch and a bit of exploring. As we arrived at the port we were welcomed with the grand looking church, colourful boats and buildings, and a very blue sky.

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Exploring Torno
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Late lunch at Bar Italia in Torno

Our three days in Lake Como were absolutely gorgeous and every time I look back at the photos of the scenery, I still feel like it was something out of a film and I cannot get over the beauty of it. The mountains surrounding the clear, sparking lake, with the mini, colourful, rural villages that are situated all around the lake – all of this make it a truly beautiful place to visit.

I would love to go again in the summer, explore another side of the lake, and go swimming!

 

Touring and Wine Tasting at the Onepio Winery – Desenzano Del Garda, Italy

They say “while in Rome, do as the Romans do”, so while in Lake Garda, we went wine tasting in a vineyard.

The owner, Ilaria Accordini, comes from a wine producing family and after a few years of staying in different wineries around the world, she has decided to start her own winery in the Lombardy region.

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The vineyard
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The Vineyard

Ilaria showed us around the vineyard, talking us through the farming and her background in the wine production industry, while we sipped on the chilled Onepio Lugano wine.

Ilaria has put together all her knowledge that she has gained from working in vineyards all around the world and wanted to created high quality, unique wine at her modern winery – and she has definitely achieved this.

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The Vineyard
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Their products

After the tour, the wine tasting began. We had some risotto which was made with the Amarone and Ilaria talked us through all the wine in front of us.

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Wine tasting with wine infused risotto
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Amarone infused risotto
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Wine and cheese pairing

Then the cheese came out and some more wine to taste.

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The beautiful Italian cheese selection
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The smells that you can pick up are in these little glass jars

Below are our 3 favourite wines:

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The Lugana
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The Amarone
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The Ripasso

I would definitely recommend a trip to Onepio if you are in the area. Around July or August or even September are probably the best times to go so that you are able to see a much more fruitful vineyard than we saw – they were just getting started for the new season when we went in April.

It costs 30 Euros to tour the vineyard and for wine tasting and Ilaria is a really great host!

 

http://www.onepio.it/en/

Villa Pioppi Restaurante – Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy

As the sun went down in Sirmione, we walked from the old town over to Villa Pioppi. It is a gorgeous boutique hotel and restaurant which has a swimming pool and beautiful terrace on the lake that faces the sunset.

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Walking into Villa Pioppi with the sun setting behind
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The pool and the restaurant behind
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More of the pool and lake
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The restaurant

We sat down at a table outside, facing the lake. Sitting on a terrace on Lake Garda, wine in hand, facing the sunset – what an absolute dream! It was so peaceful and tranquil and an incredibly stunning way to end our day.

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Our sunset view at dinner

Eventually we ordered dinner – we weren’t rushed to pestered to order food as soon as we got there – so we were able to really relax and have a drink while taking in the views.

We ordered two starters (a mozzarella and tomato salad and a tuna tartare) and shared a pepperoni pizza for our main.

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Mozzarella and tomato salad
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Tuna tartare
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Tuna tartare
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Pepperoni pizza

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The food was all absolutely delicious and full of flavour. It was a really great evening and I definitely recommend going for dinner while you are in Lake Garda.

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Before the restaurant started filling up with people
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Dinner vibes
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Leaving Villa Pioppi

 

http://www.villapioppihotel.com/en/

http://www.villapioppihotel.com/en/restaurant