Lake Como

Lake Como!  We ate, we drank, we hiked, we boated and I choked on a piece of steak!  More on that last part later, but we really loved our time on Lake Como.  As we were getting ready to leave Rome, a much visited vacation destination, where there is no shortage of trusted recommendations for places to eat and things to do, I started to feel sort of nervous about Lake Como, a place I knew was beautiful but not much else about.  Luckily, the owner of the apartment we rented had all the recommendations we needed and we found plenty of ways to entertain ourselves, apart from eating and drinking 🙂

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We took a train from Rome to Milan — it was such a nice train and they passed out Tarelli, an Italian cracker that I am now addicted to — then another (less nice) train from Milan to Varenna and then the car ferry from Varenna to Bellagio, where we stayed at Hotel Nenè, right in the heart of the town.  It was so rainy when we got in, but as we were basically inside a train all day, it didn’t matter too much.  We grabbed a quick snack at Apertivo Et Al as soon as we got settled at our apartment and then the rain really didn’t matter 😛

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We were still on Rome time for dinner, so we walked to Loppia — one of Bellagio’s many adorable hamlets — for dinner around 9 PM and it was a GHOST TOWN.  In the dark and rain, it was sort of eerie, but also kind of cool to walk around by ourselves.  We adjusted our dinner time to be a bit earlier after that night, but it was still an awesome dinner at All Darsene di Loppia.  I was so impressed with the food that I immediately stopped worrying Lake Como would be a culinary disappointment.  Check out our sampler of the fish from the lake!  I loved them all, but one of them literally tasted like bacon and that was obviously our favorite.  I had THEE BEST pumpkin gnocchi with a lamb ragu for dinner and then… we had a white chocolate sphere for dessert!!!  They poured a warm raspberry sauce over top so the chocolate melted to reveal a incredible, mildly liquorice-flavored cream inside.  DANG, it was so good!

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The sun was back out by the next morning, so we could see Lake Como in all her glory.  Gosh what a view!  I had a little shop/cafe I wanted to go to for breakfast but didn’t realize how far away it was until we’d been walking for twenty minutes, oops!  But it was okay because we go to see the San Giovanni hamlet and it was the cutest.  Felt like we had the whole thing to ourselves, you know, so we could do the zip-line at the park in privacy 😛

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After breakfast and exploring San Giovanni, we noticed a sign for a little train and you guys know we cannot pass up a little train, so we rode it back to the town center then decided to stay on and head back to Loppia to walk through the Villa Melzi botanic gardens.  The entrance to the gardens was RIGHT next to the restaurant we’d had dinner at the night before, so we maybe stopped back in for lunch.  It was the same staff, so they all remembered us.  As for the gardens, they were beautiful!  We were sort of blown away by how alive and thriving everything still is in Italy in October!  Learned we love an Italian Cypress too 😛

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Later on, we read near the water but maybe spent more time propping up Joey’s phone to take that portrait of us.  We had made dinner reservations at Trattoria Baita Belvedere and what an adventure it was!  First, it’s up in the hills and since we didn’t have a car, the restaurant sent a van for us (and two other couples) then drove us up the most twisty-turny road to the restaurant.  That view ♥♥♥  Joey read that they serve wild boar there, so his excitement level was a 10.  I don’t think it was as good as he’d hoped, but at least he wasn’t eating the world’s driest hen, which is what I was doing… we did have an excellent bottle of wine and a delicious cheese sampler though.

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Oh, just another beautiful day on Lake Como ♥  We tried another breakfast spot that involved more walking and unimpressive pastries and it was then that I realized Bellagio breakfasts might be a problem.  Afterward, we took the ferry to Mennagio, which was cute but not a ton to see or do.  We did put our hands in the water though and it was pleasantly not freezing cold.  We read that people don’t really swim in the lake because they consider it dirty but it looked super clear to me!

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We spent the rest of the day in Varenna, which you can also ferry to.  We had picked a restaurant called Il Cavatappi to have lunch at and when we finally showed up they were turning a group of three away.  I figured they were getting ready to close for their mid-day break and was about to walk away when Joey realized it might have been the party size causing the issue.  For two they had a table right away and I’m so glad because it was an amazing meal!  We felt so lucky 🙂

After lunch, we tried to take a sort of hike over to a small stream and a cemetery but we must’ve taken a wrong turn because soon we were actually hiking up to a castle on the top of Varenna.  I’m sure that cemetery was cool, but so was the castle.  We saw some papier-mâché ghosts and instantly recognized them from The Amazing Race!  The view was something else, plus they keep falcons and owls up there and they were really cool to see, even if we were a day early for their “show.”  Once we got back down to the town center, we grabbed a post-hike gelato, of course!

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That night for dinner, we went to La Pergola and I legitimately choked on a piece of steak.  It was a very scary moment when I was waving my hand at Joey to indicate I couldn’t breathe before I coughed that piece of steak up, so my advice to you is to really chew your food.  The good news is that steak was perfectly cooked and seasoned 😛

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After breakfast at Bar Cafe Rossi — it was steps from where we were staying, but right in the town center, so I’d deemed it touristy and kept resisting going there, but then it turned out to be better than both the places I walked so far to, so what do I know? — we walked around for a bit, then decided it was now or never if we wanted to rent a boat and take it out on the lake.  The first place we walked over to was fully booked for the day and we were thisclose to just letting it go, but decided to call one other place and they had a boat available!  We grabbed lunch at La Pergola (yes, we went back) out on their terrace and what a view of the lake.  Sorry for so many pictures of that ivy-covered house, but how cool?!

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Okay, I’m sorry if these pictures are out of order (it’s hard to remember which town was which!), but can you even believe they’ll let you take a boat out on your own, no license required??  We went through Boat Hire Bellagio and I could not recommend them more!  The man who ran the company was so kind and fun and gave Joey a little crash course on operating the boat, then gave us a map with a suggested route and it was perfect!  We got to see the other side of Bellagio, Menaggio, Varenna (including a view of that cemetery from the day before!), a bunch of breathtaking villas and the one little island on the lake.  We were hoping to catch sight of the Clooney villa but no such luck.  It was seriously so fun and Joey only went so fast that I was scared I’d fly out a couple of times 😛

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For our last dinner in Bellagio, we planned on walking to a seafood restaurant but it was sort of chilly and sort of far, so we opted to go to a place around the corner instead.  Turns out they serve the same risotto and fish dish that we’d been hoping to get at the seafood restaurant.  We were told it’d be an hour wait, but we were expecting it, so we just grabbed some pillows and sat on the steps outside the restaurant while we waited.  I guess this is a typical dish in Bellagio and despite how bad the lighting in my picture is and how simple the dish looks, it was amazing!  That fish was so perfectly fried and seasoned.  We both devoured it.  And then we ordered tiramisu and basically ordered it every night after that!

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One last view of those picturesque stairs and then we made our way to Venice!  I was really impressed with Lake Como and found it so beautiful, from the food to the people to the towns to the actual lake.  I hope to see it again some day ♥

Recently Consumed

A list of things consumed by my head, heart, eyes, ears and stomach lately.

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The Dry by Jane Harper

Maybe I’m not the best literary detective, but this book had me in the dark till the very end!  There’s nothing worse than a predictable ending, so I really appreciated the way Harper was able to keep you guessing, then give you an ending that felt like it was under your nose the entire time.  I also loved the cast of characters she created.  From the likable main character to the colorful townspeople, they were all well flushed out and entertaining.  The whole time I read it, I felt this sense of lurking danger and suspicion, that was both creepy and enticing.  Give it a shot!

Good Thing by Leon Bridges

Guys, are you straight wearing this album out like I am??  It feels more up-tempo and poppy than his debut album, but in a very good way.  And despite the change in tone, it still has those very lovely low-key slow songs that he does so well.  I’m very impressed by it!

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Arrested Development 

Did you guys watch Season 5 yet?  I want to tell you I loved it, but honestly, I could barely remember what happened in Season 4 (and much of Season 4 didn’t makes sense to me because I couldn’t remember where we left off in Season 3…), so a lot of the jokes and references were not landing like they probably should have.  Still, this was Will Arnett at his Gob-damn best (see what I did there?) and I’m now referring to red hair as “Howard Red.”

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A Big-@$$ Bag of Granola

I ran out of no-bake granola and really wanted the real deal baked stuff, but because I could barely handle the thought of having the oven on for 45 minutes, I decided to make A BIG batch and hope it would last me all the way through the rest of the summer.  Luckily, this Naturally Sweetened Toasted Coconut Granola is A) already a favorite of mine and B) makes something like 10 cups of granola.  I thought I may have burnt it, but it just tastes really delicious.

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Kaleo at Red Rocks

Way back in 2015, Joey and I bought $12 tickets to see Guardians of the Galaxy at Film on the Rocks and were treated to a pre-show performance by an unheard of Icelandic band called Kaleo.  Flash forward to last month when we got to see them headline their own show at Red Rocks!  From Row 7 with Hannah and Josh, no less!  Our babies have come so far.

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This was our June book club read and what a discussion it was!  This is the story of a couple with five children, the youngest of whom is born Claude but becomes Poppy at the age of five.  It was so eye-opening, mind-opening, heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.  Mostly, it just sounds very hard to be a parent.

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Peaches

It’s stone fruit season, y’all!  Just kidding, I don’t say y’all, but it felt right in that moment 🙂  Feels like strawberries had just started to get really good when cherries then peaches popped up at the Farmers’ Market.  So summer fruit seasons have been a little condensed but here we are with peaches in hand, feeling our very happiest.  Or is that just me?  I’ve yet to have that PERFECT PEACH moment yet, but I KNOW it’s coming and for that, I am very excited.

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The Big Lebowski at Film on the Rocks

I took my family to Red Rocks on Monday night to celebrate my birthday and it was just the best!  We ate Illegal Pete’s, listened to two mediocre bands, laughed uncomfortably at a comedian, ate red velvet cupcakes (they were melty but OH SO GOOD!  Joey maybe dropped some crumbs in a White Russian and I maybe ate them :P), then were treated to a Coen Brothers masterpiece that is somehow better and funnier every time I watch it?  Just a perfect night all around!

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All the Wine

I’m your beer girl for real, but something about the heat of the summer has me preferring wine.  A chilled wine, specifically.  I’m not claiming to know anything about wine, I’m just claiming to have drunk many glasses this summer.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I won’t say this is a show you can’t live without, but it’s so easy to watch and I find it extremely quick-witted for a 30-minute comedy.  I mentioned to my sister that we were watching the most recent season and when she admitted she didn’t know what it was, my explanation — “it’s about a woman who’s been imprisoned in a bunker for 15 years and when she gets freed, she moves to New York but she hasn’t been in the real world for 15 years so doesn’t know what a lot of things are and also, it’s Jon Hamm who imprisoned her” — sounded weird but don’t be fooled, because this show is great!  Titus is my favorite.

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The Peach Pit from Pizzeria Lui

I’m not joking when I say I’ve been lusting over this pizza since LAST summer.  We didn’t manage to get over to Pizzeria Lui until after this special was gone, so I’d been hoping and praying they’d bring it back this year and they did!  Last night, my sister came over to give me a manicure (!!!!) and Joey was kind enough to go pick us up some pizza.  Biting into that warm peach, creamy ricotta, salty prosciutto and spicy honey felt like a dream come true!

Tell me what you’re reading, eating, watching or listening to these days and please please have a wonderful weekend!