Just one of many incredible things about visiting Italy, and indeed most of Western Europe is that your range of food choices is astronomical!

Seriously, we’ve been in Italy less than a week and been able to experience a couple of great Michelin rated restaurants as part of our everyday life. Now that’s a special sort of cool!

With the majority of food being local, and almost always organic, it’s simply amazing! Clearly, one of the big pluses to eating in Europe is that they completely restrict the use of GMO’s in their foods. All the better, both for the taste and ingredients not to mention what we’re putting into our bodies…right?!

The first Michelin rated ristorante we discovered last week was in Verona Tre Marchetti, which I wrote about in last week’s story. Check it out!

This week we discovered Alle Darsene di Loppia (Via Melzi d’Eril, Loppia) in the next village along the lake toward Bellagio from San Giovanni. Not only does it provide an eclectic mediterranean themed menu, but also an incredible array of local and regional Italian wines. Not surprisingly it’s also a Michelin rated restaurant – how good is that?

From the very moment you entered the restaurant the service was impeccable!

Our waiter and sommelier were able to provide us with wonderful insights into both the menu and the wine pairings. We decided to put our faith in their hands with both the wine selection and food choices…and good thing we did.

To start, we had a beautiful homemade fusilli with gragnano and smoked eel, porcini mushrooms and mugo pine. So flavourful, it literally melted in our mouths…

For our main course Shirley had the seared Venison loin with cherries, baked apple and mashed celeriac. This was paired with a delightful, full bodied Tuscan red. While I had the fried Lake fish, which they paired with a Sardegna (Sardina) Vermentino (white wine). Wow!

All well and good, but the dessert was the pièce de résistance…

We ordered the White chocolate sphere with licorice and warm raspberry sauce drizzled over it so that it could melt…

We literally rolled out of the restaurant after eating so much fabulous food. Fortunately for us it was only a mere five minute walk from our village. And because it was sooooo good, we had to book another meal before we left to come home. Yes, it was that good! 🙂

Another of the great restaurants that we weren’t able to squeeze in this visit, but have on good local authority is Salice Blu. This family owned and run ristorante is just minutes from the center of Bellagio and San Giovanni and also boasts a well renown cooking school.

The cooking school option would be a fabulous activity to consider on your next visit.

One of my absolute favourite things to do is catch up with my good friend Mich who owns and operates Bellagio WaterSports. It’s been in operation since 2010, offering both kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) tours of Bellagio and its local environs. The school caters to all levels of experience from the novice to the highly accomplished.

Depending on your schedule and level of expertise Mich can also arrange private tours on the Lake. I would definitely recommend this option! 🙂

Shirley and I were fortunate enough to have a private tour this time around and we navigated from the school’s home base in Pescallo (another small village now subsumed by Bellagio, much like San Giovanni).

Mich initially took us along the lake relatively close to shore prior to heading out into the lake to get a true perspective of Bellagio, before paddling around the tip of the peninsula and along the foreshore close to the center of the town and ferry lanes.

We had an incredible morning, not only was the weather a perfect 23C and warm, but the lake was calm and the air clear so we were able to see all of the villages, and the Italian Alps as if they were within your physical reach.

Being in a kayak at lake level offers a totally different perspective, in that you become part of the lake and at one with your natural surroundings as you paddle along in the crystal clear water surrounded by soaring mountains and the Alps… Makes you feel small but connected to nature.

Getting local is what it’s all about for me when traveling. I guess I’m fortunate that I’ve been to this part of Italy many times and so have built up friendships with a number of the locals, which adds a whole new dimension to my time here.

Now if only my Italian was better…next time it’s language school for sure!

This visit I’ve also been fortunate enough to have a couple of local shops agree to sell my latest coffee table book Una storia d’amore in Bellagio over the coming spring and summer months.

Fingers crossed that it appeals to those who are visiting and want to take a little piece of Italy home with them. 🙂

We’ve had an amazing holiday here in Italy. I know…I’m very lucky!

Until next week