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

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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!

 

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

 

Travels to Lake Garda, Italy

We spent the Easter weekend exploring the Italian Lakes and chose to go to both Lake Garda and Lake Como. We landed in Milan Malpensa, picked up our rented our very Italian car (a tiny little Fiat 500) and made our way over to Desenzano, a little town on the south west shore of Lake Garda, where we had booked our hotel for two nights.

There were a lot of motorways and very un-scenic views involved in this almost 2 hour drive to Lake Garda, but when we finally saw the beautiful Lake glistening in the sunshine in front of us we were very excited to have arrived. We parked, checked in, changed into more appropriate clothes for the gloriously sunny, 24 degree Celsius day, and headed out to walk around to see what Desenzano had to offer.

We walked up to the lake and onto the pebbled beach and I was amazed to see how crystal clear the water was as the soft waves pushed it in and out. It felt very much like going to the seaside in the South of France. We sat on the pier with our legs dangling out over the water watching the swans and ducks go by and taking in the peacefulness of it all – before heading off to find a somewhere to eat lunch in the sunshine.

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Desenzano del Garda
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Desenzano del Garda in the sunshine

We wondered through the streets passing the colourful little buildings with their colourful shutters and on the windows until we found Bar Pizzeria Gelateria Cristallo facing the gorgeous Porto Vecchio and the Lake.

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Ponte Vecchio
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Bar Pizzeria Gelateria Cristallo

After a long lunch we set off to see the Castello di Desenzano. It sits grand amongst the colourful low rise buildings that surround it.

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Castello di Desenzano
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Castello di Desenzano
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The beautiful little streets of Desenzano
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Pre-dinner drinks at Piazza Cappelletti

Overall Desenzano is a peaceful, gorgeous and colourful little town. I would definitely recommend staying here if you go to Lake Garda.

The next morning after breakfast we set off to a Vineyard for a tour and some wine tasting (which will be blogged about soon) before spending the rest of the day in Sirmione. Sirmione is a little town with a lot of history. It is a thin, long road that goes into the Lake and at the end of this road, you walk across a moat, through a castle entrance to then enter the old Sirmione town.

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Castello Scaligero
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Sitting on a pier to take in the gorgeous views

The old town is buzzing and full of people, like ourselves, being tourists and exploring.

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The busy Sirmione Old Town
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Found a spot in the Square in the sunshine for some drinks and nibbles before exploring the castle

We ended up finding a suntrap in the Square by the Ferry Port where we decided to stop for a drink – but every time you order an alcoholic beverage somewhere in Lake Garda, you will get nibbles to go with them – usually some crisps and olives but if you go between 5pm and 7pm you will get bread, bread sticks (they LOVE a bread stick), cheese and ham. It was lovely just sitting in the sun and watching the world go by around us.

There were gelaterias on every corner, thermal baths and spas, colourful shops and restaurants everywhere you look and some ginormously large lemons – all the things that Sirmione is famous for.

Unfortunately we didn’t try any lemons and we didn’t have a chance to go into the thermal baths, but we did have a fabulous time walking around the old town and going into the castle to see all the views.

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Views from the castle looking out to the Lake
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More lake views from the castle
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Views from the top of the castle looking down into the old town
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Views from the top of the castle looking out to the lake
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More lake views from the castle

If you do have the chance, definitely go for a day to explore this gorgeous area of Lake Garda.

Where to go? What to do?

  • Have a day to stroll around Desenzano town
  • Go to Castello di Desenzano
  • Find a vineyard to do a winery tour and wine tasting
  • Try some Lake Garda Lemons
  • Enter Castello Scaligero in Sirmione
  • Go to a thermal bath (historically used by the Romans here) in Sirmione
  • Take a boat ride around Sirmione
  • Have an Aperol Spritz (or other beverage) during aperitivo time
  • Go for a walk, run or bike ride along the Lake
  • Have lots of pasta
  • Relax

 

Where to stay?

We stayed in Hotel Bonotto in Desenzano which was perfect for what we needed it to be. It is a well-priced 3 star hotel with wifi, free parking, a safe in the room, breakfast included and it is a 2 minute walk from the lake. What more did we need?

The staff were great at helping us out to find our way around, giving us tips on where to go, and helping us out with what we needed for our stay.

Breakfast is served in the restaurant on the top floor which has floor to ceiling windows and a large terrace overlooking Lake Garda as well as the castle and rest of the town. Breakfast is continental with a choice of fruits, cereals, breads, cheeses, hams and boiled eggs as well as the teas, coffees and fruit juices. There was one morning when I was at breakfast and there was a bottle of prosecco as one of the drink options in the buffet, but it was a little too early for me, plus we were off to Onepio Vineyard afterwards.

Below are photos of our room and gorgeous views from the roof terrace at breakfast.

http://www.hotelbonottodesenzano.it/en/

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g194965-d2090589-Reviews-Hotel_Bonotto-Desenzano_Del_Garda_Province_of_Brescia_Lombardy.html