Last week, we received a visit from our Uncle S. and Aunt Deborah who were traveling through Europe on business. They had planned a stop over visit us before traveling by train to their next destination. We had also coordinated with Jen’s mom, who was departing on the same day they arrived, which saved us a trip to the airport and allowed us to spend the day in Milano (never a bad thing). Whoever said planning is overrated never had traffic and a two year old to contend with.
Julia with her great-uncle S.
Julia was sad to see her Nonna leave, but excited to have new visitors to play with. She instantly recognized S. and Deb as they arrived through customs. Since it was early evening when they landed, we took them back to our condo and had a “light” dinner of bread, salami, salami piccante (spicy salami) prosciutto, cheese, a cannelloni bean salad, acciughe in salsa verde (anchovies in green sauce), insalata finocchio (fennel salad) and insalata caprese with some wonderful buffalo mozzarella. Franco and Claudia came downstairs to join the party and brought some additional goodies of their own. Of course, we had more than a bottle or two of some good vino along with grappa and limoncello to wash it all down. Continue reading Eating On Top Of The World→
We’ll just call this the “prequel” or maybe “part one of two“. As the title suggests, our day in Brunateshould have given us spectacular views of downtown Como since it virtually sits atop the city on a mountain. But since the fog wasn’t cooperating and decided to stick around – we didn’t get to see or photograph some of the most amazing views our lake town has to offer. So, perhaps a better title might have been…
“Brunate – we’ll focus on the town this time and show you the views next time… the Prequel”.
Welcome to Brunate
Brunate is a small town of about 1,700 residents in the provence of Como and sits [based on my speculation, vertigo and body tempeture] at the highest altitude in the immediate area. It is for this reason that you get the most speculator views as well as an intimate and charming old-world feel.
There are three ways to get to Brunate. First (and my personal favorite) is by helicopter. This is reserved exclusively for George Clooney (a “local”) and the Italian Prime Minister. I’m hoping to get on this short list. Incidentally, there is no helicopter pad in Brunate – I just imagine if they wanted to travel to this way… they could.
What’s a good thing to do on a Sunday? We thought a stroll by the lake might be the perfect activity. Jen’s uncle Franco had been telling us about a lake nearby that is an exact 5k and perfect for walking and stroller pushing because it has a paved walkway.
Lago di Segrino
Jen and I had ventured off on our own half a dozen times this past week trying to find this nearby lake. First, we went to Lago di Alserio, because that was the closest. We discovered a charming new town and another “happy hour” place to try – but alas, the lake was not suited for walking. Next, we tried Lago di Montorfano and found a place to rent boats and a fun-looking beach bar for the summer time. But no walking trail. After a few more failed attempts, we realized that we were never going to find this place on our own, given that this area of Italy is often referred to as the Lake District of Italy. So Sunday morning we asked Franco if he would show us on google maps the location of the map. Instead, he volunteered to join us and personally direct us in the car. And fortunately, Claudia offered to stay home and cook us lunch for our return! Continue reading A Sunday Stroll→
What a wonderful tradition happy hour is! A time when friends can gather and join in a few post-work drinks and perhaps a little nibble to eat. We’ve always known happy hour to be a 5:00pm – 7:00pm (ish) time to partake in a few cocktails at a discounted price.
Caffè Mazzini – Our favorite Happy Hour in Como
We were pleased to find that the tradition of “happy hour” also exists in Italy and it’s even called the same thing (just imagine saying it with a funny little accent… drop the sound the “h” makes). However, it’s a bit different here.
Instead of discounted drinks and food, you usually pay the same price for the drinks (which always tends to be low anyways… between $4 – $6) but get a big bonus. ALL YOU CAN EAT heavy hors d’oeuvres – Italian style!!! Imagine a bar full of pasta, pizza and other wonderful treats. If you’re not to embarrassed to fill a plate – you can easily have enough for dinner. Continue reading Happy Hour – Although This One Was Unhappy!→
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday there is a market on the north side of Como. It exists just outside the old fort wall that surrounds the original city. There is a collection of over a hundred vendors, most which arrive in their vans and vend from open doors.
Vans – vending on the other side
We strolled through and decided there was nothing we needed before moving on to a late afternoon snack (more on that in a subsequent post). Below you’ll see a collection of the random items you can purchase if you so choose. Continue reading Saturday Market in Como→
OK, we realize it’s nearly February and people are more inclined to think about Valentine’s Day than Christmas… but it’s still cold and snowy and hey, who couldn’t use a little holiday cheer any time of year?! So, if you’ll forgive us for posting about Christmas at the end of January, than you’ll certainly excuse the fact that these pictures were taken last year!
Christmas is such a special time in Italy. We didn’t want to miss a posting about this wonderful event and some of the local traditions. When we arrived on January 4th, all the lights and decorations were still present but we didn’t have an opportunity to photograph anything. Therefore, we had to use some from last year’s library.
Lake Como’s Duomo – lit up at night
Starting in early December, you’ll find lights and decorations sprinkled throughout each piazza and cobblestone street you encounter. In front of every church you’ll see a presepio (nativity scene) that is always presented wonderfully and illuminated each night. If you venture into the suburbs (or look up toward the windows in most cities), you’ll see hundreds of little Santas trying to climb their way into someone’s home. And you’re sure to hear “Buon Natale” (Merry Christmas) at every turn. Continue reading Christmas in Italy→