Tag Archives: Food

Cruising Lake Como

*I wrote this post on Aug. 14th, 4 days before my eye surgery.

And then forgot all about it.

Better late than never, right?

On one of my days off, I thought it would be fun to cruise around the lake, visiting some of the popular towns and attractions on my way.

I decided to start the day off in Bellagio and work my way down the left leg of the lake (also known as the “Como” branch, the other leg is referred to as the Lecco branch). Instead of riding on the lake all day, I took the bus from Como to Bellagio, which only cost me €2.50 and took about an hour and a half. It was a fun ride with great views of the lake.

Once I arrived, I took some time to take photos of the beautiful scenery and flowers.

From there I just walked around (mainly looking for a place to grab lunch). There were lots of little side streets and restaurants could be found all over. I wanted something light and inexpensive so I chose to grab a panini at Cafe Vecchio Borgo (which translates to Old Village). They were only €5 and delicious!

The Mediterraneo panini at Cafe Vecchio Borgo

Of course, after lunch I had to have dessert! Instead of the usual gelato, I decided to go with my new favorite: an Affogato! What is an affogato you ask? Well it’s the perfect combination of vanilla ice cream topped with un cafe (aka a shot of expresso). Affogato literally translates to “drowned”.

 

The Affogato! yummy!

As you can see, it looks amazing! We made this at the house, minus the whip cream and biscuit, regularly and it tastes good every time! If you decide to make it at home, try and find a “gelato” or creamier ice cream so that it doesn’t all melt the second you pour the coffee on it.

And finally, after my affogato, I walked up to the very tip of Bellagio, where you can see down all three branches of the lake.

After snapping some photos, I went back down to the dock where I hopped on the ferry to my next location: Leno.

There are many villas around Lake Como, but one of the most famous is Villa del Balbianello. The villa has been used as a filming location in Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, and after visiting it, I can believe more films haven’t use it.

The villa is only accessible by foot on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is a 20-30 minute hike from the dock, most of the roads are unpaved too so it is crucial to wear proper shoes. The villa has it’s own dock and visitors can hire a water taxi from one of the towns near by to take them to the villa every day of the week (except Monday and Wednesday when the villa is closed). This makes the villa very secluded and helps with preservation.

Me at the Villa

I did not take a tour of the inside, just walked the gardens which cost around 8 euros.

After walking around for a bit, I walked back to the dock, and hopped on the next ferry to Como. On the way, we passed by the home of Lake Como’s most famous resident: George Clooney.

George Clooney's Villa on Lake Como

Yes, it was an amazing day on the lake and I was able to see just about everything I wanted to see.

I highly recommend doing this if you are ever near Lake Como. Another option is to just buy a ticket and ride the boat around the lake (not getting off at any stops).

Ciao,

Sheila

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Filed under Italiano, Movie Reference, Things to do, Things to see, Travel

Getting Settled

My first two weeks here went by pretty fast. Between getting settled and planning baby Leone’s baptism Peter Pan Party, I spent most of my time at the house.  Oh, also it was a miserable 85 degrees every day, which doesn’t seem really hot but coming from cold London plus not having AC to cool down makes anything over 78 feel REALLY hot.

I did get down to the town of Como one afternoon, took a stroll by the water and enjoyed a yummy gelato.

Peach & Strawberry gelato

I love old Italian buildings

The Duomo in Como

We also went down to Como for dinner one evening. I got to try some new foods, including octopus, which is very popular here but I had never tried.

The family, consisting of father, Dario, mother, Paula, and children, Allegra (4) and Leone (4 months), are neighbors with Dario’s parents, his brother, Ivan, and his family. Sounds like something right out of “Everybody Loves Raymond”, but unlike the Barones, everyone here is respectful of personal space.

The first Sunday I was here (July 4th) Ivan and his wife, Sandra, had a BBQ the for her father’s birthday.  We enjoyed some delicious home cooked food, wine, and meat brought from an area near Tuscany.

Bruschetta! yummy!!

L to R: Ivan's brother-in-law, Dario, and Ivan

Best Bellini ever!

Home made desserts and berries from the orchard

I’ve definitely been doing a lot of cooking here, including an apricot torta (the apricot jam can be replaced with your personal favorite), lasagna, and risotto!

We even had a Mexican food night with guacamole, beef tacos, and chicken and steak fajitas. Surprisingly enough, we were able to find all the ingredients in the supermarket.

I’ve also taken a few trips to surrounding cities: Bellagio, Milan, Brunate, Bergamo, Lugano, and Verona. You can read about Verona by clicking on the link, and I will be doing a separate post for my trip to Bellagio, but I’ll take the next couple posts to showcase the other towns, starting with Milan.

Next up, the Peter Pan party & Bergamo!

Ciao,

Sheila

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Filed under Cooking, Italiano

No Americano

Well, I arrived in Italy 3 weeks ago, so you’ll have to excuse the delay in updates but between catching up on London posts and the Peter Pan party things have been busy.

Where am I exactly?

My view from the house

It took me some time to figure it out, but I’m living in a little town called Tavernerio. It’s about 10 minutes away from the town of Como, which Lake Como gets it’s name from.

The family I’m living with has a small farm and orchard, where they grow things like blueberries, raspberries, eggplant, grapes, and lettuce. They make jams from the fruits, which I’ve been having for breakfast with my toast just about every morning since I’ve arrived.

The area I’m in is quite different from Florence. There I couldn’t go a single day without hearing English spoken by American tourists. Here, I only come across tourists maybe once a week.

What am I doing?

Allegra viewing the orchard

I am an Au Pair for an Italian family. They have a 4-year-old girl, and a 4-month-old son, but I spend most of my time with the girl, Allegra. We start our mornings with breakfast and about 30 minutes of cartoons (all in Italian, but originally from the US). Coloring follows this, usually with markers, sometimes crayons or watercolors. Once she gets bored with that, we move on to either blowing bubbles outside, picking blueberries, or a new pirate puzzle game. Next there’s possibly some reading or playing with Barbie, and then some more cartoons before lunch.

I’m pretty much done after lunch as it’s naptime and since it is so freaking hot here, there’s really not much else you want to do by that point but sleep! I have my afternoons to myself, and I usually spend them inside reading or sleeping.

I have also been doing some cooking. I’ve make a Persian dish for the family, as well as a Mexican feast a couple nights ago for about 10 people. Paula, Allegra’s mom, has also been teaching me some Italian dishes, including an apricot torta, and lasagna (recipe coming soon for those who want it).

My little house, next to the family's main home

Needless to say, life is good right now. It’s really hot, I wake up earlier than when I used to go to work, but I’m also done around 2pm.

I’m enjoying not being in the center of a touristy city. It’s nice to actually hear Italian being spoken when I go around the town. Best of all, I’m having an incredible opportunity to live Italian for 6 weeks!

I love it.

Ciao,

Sheila

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Filed under Cooking, Italiano, Song Reference