Our latest family holiday was a destination we’ve been planning to tick off the list for a long time. Thank goodness we weren’t deterred by having a child with us, or the fact that such an ‘exclusive’ destination – George Clooney has a home there for crying out loud – could potentially be rather pricey.
Because, turns out, a holiday to Lake Como is not only a prefect place to take children, it’s also delightfully easy on the pursestrings. There were are number of things that appealed to us when we chose to go to this region of Italy for a laid back 10 days. One, the flights to Milan were very well priced. Two, the stunning scenery. Three, the food.
We weren’t disappointed to find that the place lived up to its reputation of excellent cuisine – simple but delicious, fresh and rustic ingredients put perfectly together thanks to age-old traditions passed down through the generations of Italian mammas.
So the three of us took ourselves to the small hamlet of Ossuccio, right next to Lenno, where we found they made a well-known olive oil which was once found on the aisles of Sainsbury’s. There we discovered that restaurants are places that are laid back and perfect for children, where you can order wine by the glass for €2.50, you might as well have all of the courses if you can fit it in (bread, starter, pasta, meat, dessert at a push), and there is such a thing as takeaway pizza that tastes better than any other you’ve tasted and actually melts in your mouth, and it costs €5.
We took trips to tourist spots like Bellagio, but decided to always eat closer to our apartment, where we knew locals as well as holidaymakers stayed, which meant quality was always high but prices were relatively low. We found a place in the hills that was idyllic – Pizzeria Balognett – a family-run restaurant out of the back of their home (‘trattoria’) which was surrounded by their own allotments. We sat among herbs and pear trees and spotted the growing chillis and tomatoes while we ate the homegrown vegetables doused in delicious olive oil. Here the pizza was out of this world too.
We tried creamy gelato (no Mr Whippy here), we ate fresh pasta and drank local wine on our balcony overlooking the lake when our little one had gone to bed as the sun went down, we ate fantastic lake fish in many ristorantes. We treated ourselves to a posh meal at Crotto dei Platani, which must have had the best view of in Lake Como, and we ate happily al fresco as we watched diners arrive in style – by speedboat to the restaurant’s jetty, of course.
I could go on and on, but I won’t, because I’m making myself pine for the place. Safe to say, if you’ve been wanting to go to Lake Como but have had any reservations, don’t. It’s known for being the best of all the Italian lakes, and if you like a holiday that provides beauty and wonder, good food and wine, as well as nice people surrounding you, this should be the next place on your itinerary.