Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Ligurian Coast & Lake Como: Moscardini, Missoltini and Much Else

Ligurian Coast & Lake Como: Moscardini, Missoltini and Much Else

Old Oct 26th, 2008, 01:43 PM
  #81  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The next day, I boarded the ferry just after 9am, bound for Bellagio. I did some wandering around the riverfront promenade and the steeply stepped side streets of this very pretty town, which was filled with tourists on this late-September Saturday. My friends took a later ferry and joined me at the tourist office, a fairly steep, uphill walk from the Lake.

We had planned on taking the tour of the grounds of the Villa Serbelloni but, after hearing the description offered by guide, my friends opted to skip a visit. (The guide estimated that the tour would take 90 minutes and would entail walking about 4 km, a good portion of this uphill. She went on to say that we would not be allowed to enter the gardens or the villa itself, which is now used as a study and conference center by the Rockefeller Foundation and is generally not open to visits by the public. Tickets cost 8 Euro per person.)

Instead, we embarked on further meandering which included some shopping for gifts and a visit to the well-reviewed Hotel Belvedere which looked lovely and offers dramatic lake views from its terrace and pool area. I also liked the location very much. From there, we continued walking toward our destination for lunch, the restaurant of the Hotel Silvio, in the Loppia frazzione of Bellagio.


http://www.bellagiosilvio.com/frameset_mangiare_en.html


The restaurant was almost full when we were shown to our window table facing the Lake. When we noticed two long tables filled with members of a local gastronomic society, I knew that we were in for a good meal!

We bagan our lunch with a selection of mixed lake fish: marinated agnoni in carpione; laverello with green sauce; and several other treats. We could not visit Bellagio without ordering the unique fish preparation of the region, so we supplemented the antipasti with an order of missoltini, allis shad that have been air dried, salted, pressed with weights, and preserved with bay leaves in barrels known as missolte. For serving, the fish are reheated on a slow fire which imparts a smoky taste, before being sprinkled with oil and vinegar. The missoltini was strong and salty, and another time I might sample it in smaller doses in one of the typical pasta preparations of the area. On the terrace below the dining room we could see racks of this small shad being dried specialized wooden racks.


One of my friends chose a spaghetti dish to follow. I had not eaten meat all week and so decided upon the filet of veal with porcini, which I split with my other table mate. Accompanied by sliced of roast fennel and potato, this dish was thrilling. Absolutely wonderful!

For dessert, the traditional apple cake of Bellagio, “miascia.” Which bore some similarity to the American bread pudding and contained, in addition to apples, raisins and citrus rind. (Later that day I would discover that Menaggio, too, has its own typical dessert!)

With wine and water, a selection of sorbets, and coffees, our lunch for three cost 82 euro. Highly recommended! (Note that the hotel will pick up diners at the ferry pier by prior arrangement)

After lunch we took a peek at two of the rooms in the hotel. The smaller of the two offered a very pleasant lakeside terrace which might overcome the snugness of the interior. A big plus in favor of choosing this hotel is the quality of the restaurant and, for me, the location in a particularly beautiful area of the town. The hotel also rents apartments for longer stays.

After lunch, we walked along the main road and past the gardens of the Villa Melzi to the ferry, where we boarded the next boat to Varenna.

ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2008, 03:34 AM
  #82  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We walked through Varenna for about an hour. Many of the red, ochre and yellow buildings wore drapes of ivy in dusky fall colors, contributing to the postcard perfection of this small lakeside town. Varenna, I think, is one of the quintessential Lake Como towns, but we were glad we had not chosen to stay there for four nights, as it is very small! Like Bellagio, it has many steep streets so would not be a good option for anyone with mobility issues.

Back on the ferry to Menaggio. My friends were tired and decided to order room service and watch the presidential debate on CNN in their room. Not wanting to face another possibly lackluster meal in town, I decided to stock up on a few goodies in the local supermarket, near the ferry dock. (There is another one closer to the hotel but I did not know this then). My eyes immediately settled on a loaf of Mateloc, the special sweet bread of Menaggio, has a biscotti-like consistency and is studded with dried fruits. It reminded me of mandelbrot. Let’s just say that I did a pretty good job on that cake which, along with some good yogurt and a couple of marvelous peaches, comprised my dinner.

The next morning, Sunday, we decided to do some exploring in the upland region between the lake and the Swiss border, and set out to follow one of the driving tours detailed by the very helpful tourist office in Menaggio.


http://www.menaggio.com/eng/itinerari_auto5.php

ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2008, 03:39 AM
  #83  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am going to link this aerial photo, which gives a good perspective on the location of the three most-visited center-lake towns. From left to right, Menaggio, Bellagio, and Varenna.


(Menaggio and Varenna roughly opposite each other; Bellagio near the apex of the triangle):



http://www.menaggio.com/eng/meteo.php


ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2008, 04:40 AM
  #84  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
More wonderful descriptions, eks - thank you, I can almost imagine I went myself !

Your lunch at Ristorante Corona sounds wonderful, and so cheap ! I noticed you mentioned the TV was on, though - which Matthew Fort commented on at a few of his stops, didn't he ? Wasn't that annoying ?

Re Lake Como, do you think you would have preferred staying in Bellagio, and did it have a better choice of restaurants than Menaggio ?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2008, 05:44 AM
  #85  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Caroline: I didn't mind the tv. The volume was very low and I don't think I would have noticed it if it was not in full view as a kind of focal point of the room!

I do think Bellagio has a better selection of good places to eat. Apparently there is a good one named Mella not too far from Hotel Silvio. Again, this is not in Bellagio itself but out of town near Loppia.

http://www.ristorantemella.it/index.htm



If I returned to Lake Como, I would consider a base in the Tremezzo/Lenno area. We had a spectacular meal there and there is a second restaurant there that I wish we had had the time to try.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2008, 05:48 AM
  #86  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
..note that the restaurant Mella offers a rental apartment.



It might be worth checking out because it is not in the center of Bellagio which, although pretty, was much too tourist-oriented for my taste.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2008, 06:20 AM
  #87  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
On the subject of eating in Bellagio, here are a few more ideas for regional food that might be worth investigating.


Note that these places are NOT in the center of town:


http://www.ristorante-saliceblu-bellagio.it/ (website has description and photos of the Bellagio polenta-like specialty, Toc)


http://www.polentoteca.com/index.asp


http://www.labusciona.it/


A bit further from Bellagio town center:


http://www.ristorantelagenzianella.com/index.php












ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2008, 03:12 AM
  #88  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Returning to SE Piemonte and the salami that I never got to taste for a moment:

There is a
Salami Festival here in July. And it is possible to follow a Salami Trail, by visiting the sources in this link; the right side pictures other regional food specialties, including the peaches, meat and cherries:



http://www.salamenobilegiarolo.com/pg/produttori.htm


ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2008, 04:20 AM
  #89  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks again eks - too much stuff !
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2008, 05:39 AM
  #90  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Caroline I am glad you are enjoying this...I know that for most people there is far too much emphasis on food!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2008, 06:37 AM
  #91  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

The next morning, Sunday, we decided to do some exploring in the upland Ticino region between the lake and the Swiss border, and set out to follow one of the driving tours detailed by the very helpful tourist office in Menaggio.


http://www.menaggio.com/eng/itinerari_auto5.php


I highly recommend this drive if you have an extra morning on the western shore of Lake Como.

Heading west from Menaggio, the road climbs quickly and affords dramatic views over the middle, Tremezzina, section of the lake and the pretty Lago di Piano, originally part of Lake Lugano until it separated in a landslide. The road continued to narrow and, after a stop at a mobile cheese and salami van in Carlazzo, we began to understand why the driving tour leaflet cautioned that “the road is quite narrow, good driving skill is compulsory.”

We passed Alpine meadows and valleys hemmed in by towering peaks, and hunters sporting wide ammunition belts and jaunty feathered caps. The sound of cowbells filled the air as we paused to allow a herd of dairy cows to cross our path. We descended near Porlezza, joined the smooth road back to Lake Como, and headed for Lenno, where we had booked a table for lunch at the SlowFood Santa Stefano.

Before lunch, we took a small detour to Giulina di Mezzegra. It was here that Mussolino and his mistress spent their last night as captives after their attempt to flee in a German convoy was thwarted on the Dongo-Muso road further north. A black cross commemorates the spot where the couple was shot by partisans on 28 April, 1945.


http://www.unionetremezzina.it/Treme...oDriver_s_1081

ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2008, 07:39 AM
  #92  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What is this concept, "too much emphasis on food" ?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2008, 07:54 AM
  #93  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,134
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, eks, we drove that same road trip from Menaggio. We twisted and turned on the road until we had to stop at a landslide and try to turn around which we finally did. Such beautful country!
SeaUrchin is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2008, 10:24 AM
  #94  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That road was really something! I don't think I remember any other one in Europe that was as narrow and twisty!

ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2008, 02:32 PM
  #95  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
oh, ek, where's the description of the lunch then?

we're all sitting here with our tongues hanging out.

regards, ann

annhig is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2008, 04:03 AM
  #96  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,643
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ann: Sorry lunch took so long. Remember, it was Sunday and the restaurant was full!


From Mezzegra, we drove the few kilometers to Lenno and parked the car in the public lot. Lenno is another picture-postcard lakeside village that swept us away with its beauty. We strolled along the long lakeside promenade, passing several open air restaurants that were filled with tourists and locals on this Sunday in late September.

We also had a look inside the Albergo Lenno which enjoys an idyllic position on the lake; the hotel has a nice pool but since the hotel was full, we were unable to see room. Nevertheless, I might consider staying here if I returned to Lake Como.

http://www.albergolenno.com/inglese/

And then on to lunch!

SANTO STEFANO, LENNO (closed Mondays)

We had booked a table at this SlowFood eatery on the Piazza XI Febbraio (the restaurant does not face the lake) the day before.

Here again, I was glad we had booked ahead because every other table was taken by a mix of locals and a few tourists. We were seated on the glass-enclosed terrace in the front of the dining area. While in winter, the kitchen turns out game supplied by local hunters, in this season the menu was centered on lake fish.

We ate lightly because we were planning a big meal that evening. Two of us passed up the special fish ravioli and split, instead, a first course of pasta with funghi porcini which was excellent.

For the secondi, I took the advice of the waitress and ordered my first sampling of one of the popular lake fish, perch. Persico dorado was several filets of “golden” perch, lightly sautéed in a delicate batter. Even to this less-than-enthusiastic fish eater, it was delicious. One of those dishes that you remember long after you return home! My friends each enjoyed their plates of what had become their favorite lake fish, the white-meat lavarello, which had been grilled and served with plenty of lemon. They also shared a mixed salad, a habit which persisted as much as I tried to steer them toward more interesting contorni (vegetable dishes).

With a glass of wine, water, and 2 limonatas, the total here came to 17 Euro per person.

http://www.santostefano.too.it/





After lunch we continued our walk around the harbor in Lenno, heading for the Villa Balbianello. Unfortunately, we arrived to find that the villa was closed on this Sunday for a special event. But during our the long hike up to the formidable gateway, we enjoyed wonderful views of the lake. The villa itself is hidden and we were able to catch not one glimpse. So to Robben Island, the Table Mountain, the Cinque Terre (which we deliberately avoided) and other places that were so near but so far, we will have to add the Villa Balbianello! Another reason to return someday! Remember to double check opening times if you are set on seeing a particular site.

Not to be daunted, we headed for the Villa Carlotta in nearby Tremezzo.
While we enjoyed the views of the lake, the gardens (not too many flowers in fall, though) and, in particular, the elaborate iron gateway, the interior of the villa is less than thrilling. I would not put it on the “essentials” list, unless you come when the gardens are in full bloom.



http://www.villacarlotta.it/sito/index2.php


From there we returned to the hotel to relax a bit (I had yet another try at the computer at the hotel, with no luck) and prepare for the dinner that would prove to be the highlight of our Lake Como dining experiences.

ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2008, 05:02 AM
  #97  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
hi ek,

at last!

river and lake fish can be a bit muddy but yours obviously wasn't. €17 each sounds a real steal.

I too have a long list of places we just missed - like you, we didn't get to Robben Island either. But I'm still sorry that you didn't make it to the top of Table Mountain.

looknig forward to more,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2008, 05:03 AM
  #98  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,037
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is so much fun. Lake Como is one of our top 5 favorite destinations and I never tire of reading about it. The detail you've provided is excellent.

I've always wondered about the tour of the Serbelloni gardens and never gotten the complete info on them. Now I know and I'll no longer feel bad about missing them. Sounds like just too much.

Sorry that your room at the GH Menaggio was less than terrific. Single rooms are often the least desirable in hotels it seems. We sometimes find that we will rave about a hotel and when my son stays in it in a single room we get a different reaction. Sorry that was the case here for you.

Can't wait for the upcoming dinner.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2008, 05:16 AM
  #99  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ooh, you tease !

Interested to read about your experiences of lake fish - we tried to sample all the alleged lake fish we saw on menus at Lake Garda, but with limited success.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2008, 07:50 AM
  #100  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I very much wanted to eat at Silvio's on my visit to Bellagio but I failed to make a reservation on a beautiful Sunday, so they were filled.

Just to update you: I had lunch today at Hotel Cenobio dei Doge because the wind is blowing so hard in Camogli, the waves crashing against the castle and church is too beautiful to be missed -- and it's nicer to be warm and eating soup while you watch! I had a lovely view and a lovely dessert of genoise cake filled with custard and chestnuts, but thought that their soup of the day, a rice with vegetables, was not as good as the genovese soup with pesto they have on the menu every day.

Looking forward to that l'ultima cena....
zeppole is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -