Milan & Lake Como

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Drinking & Dining, Travel & Outdoors

After some much-appreciated chill-time in Vernazza, we sped north to beautiful, grand, and grungey Milan, via the lovely coastal towns of Rapello and Portofino. Staying in a super-hipster AirBnB apartment in the Ticinese area by the canals, we were in the perfect location to explore some of the city’s best bars and restaurants, while still being a 20-minute walk from the duomo and the centre of the city. 

I’m travelling with a high-tier beer enthusiast (who has so far been rather impressed with the Italian craft-beer scene, particularly that in Milan), so together we’re always seeking out quality birra e cibo establishments. Our first port of call was  LambicZoon where we tried Cantillon Rosè de Gambrinus (a stunning raspberry sour), a Boon Lambic on hand pump, a black session IPA with haberno chillies, and a Beerifico Lambrate IPA. Thinking it would tide us over until dinner, we ordered what we assumed would be a modestly-sized meat platter and were presented with excessively substantial lashings of speck, lardo, prosciutto, mortadella, and cotechino, served with delicious house-made bread – an epic feast that left no room for anything but a mandatory gelato from La Gelatera della Musica. The lovely girl behind the bar recommended we try BQ Birra Artigianale di Qualità (at Alzaia Naviglio Grande 44), which we hit up the following day for a canal-side craft beer after dinner at Tasca Bar

On day two we caught a train an hour north to the lovely town of Como, and stocked up on pastries before boarding the ferry that would take us up the west “leg” of Lake Como. Despite having our first day of overcast, wet, and freezing weather (and therefore finally feeling smug about insisting we lug winter coats around the rest of balmy Italy), the lake is an absurdly beautiful place, dotted with manor houses, villas, and pretty little villages like Bellagio. Rainy days call for a simple pomodoro fettuccine and a big glass of vino rossi, and after exploring the little streets that wind up and down the hill Bellagio is sat on, and wandering around the foreshore under the shadow of the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding alps, we settled in for a wonderful lunch at Trattoria San Giacomo. A minor hail storm and some freezing rain later, we were back on the ferry en route to sodden-yet-stunning Veranna, before heading back to Milan in the evening. 

A warming post-Como beer was definitely in order, so we hit up Beerifico Lambrate, east of the main train station. This lovely, dingy little bar, all dark wood and pleasingly garish interior decoration, serves up some seriously delicious brews, not to mention free antipasti from 6-8pm. We took our cue from the locals and loaded up paper plates with potato salad, spinach and ricotta tart, roast pork, olive tapenade, focaccia, tomato and caper salad, and fresh bread. Topped off with marscapone gelato served with warm Nutella from RiveReno, it was a pretty perfect day in this part of the world.

Stay tuned for the Venice post, where I cover off our last three days in Italy before we head north, and trade pizza and gelato for waffles and frites!

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