Date: 28 August 2017
Location: Il Bacardo Del Sambuco, a tiny little courtyard restaurant tucked in between Hermes and Versace in Milan in the ‘fashion quarter’. There is a lot of matchy matchy Missoni, and my waiter’s tie is Hermes.
A quick one from Milano. This is a city that has delivered on being a quintessential Italian one in every way from excellent pizza to a stunning duomo. But this trip was never about Milano. This is a trip to that waterpark of the rich and famous, Lake Como. It was one I joined, if not reluctantly, then at least not exactly with gusto. A friend from home who is also Lady Lovelylocks’s old housemate (we shall call him Flanagan, the name of Tom Cruise’s character in Cocktail) and his new girlfriend — or, not that new, but new since I left, so she’s labelled new for now — planned three weeks in Italy. They then suggested that those of us now in London (and there are quite a few of us — I’ve been remiss in my updates about the recent influx) join them for a few days at Lake Como. We all agreed. Me 90% out of FOMO rather than a true desire to see Como. For me, Como conjures up images of American tourists crammed between cheap, crap gelaterias and of lux pleasures reserved for the richest of the rich. I had precious little enthusiasm for spending a bank holiday weekend there. I love Italy. Why not Sardinia, or Puglia, or Sicily again? Why not Tuscany? But the idea of seeing the whole gang and of a group trip to mark the end of summer and, ok, a little shopping in Milano, appealed enough to have me booking flights. Also booking flights were Tassels, Lady Lovelylocks and Panda. (All to be properly introduced in a later entry.)
I arrived first. Milano was actually a pleasant little surprise: hot, bright, very Italian. The duomo was as spectacular as everyone’s instagram shots suggest, the people chic to the extreme, the pizza hot and the gelato cold — and enough piazzas to make sure you knew you were in Italy. I love a good piazza. (Sadly, my ‘chill’ day in the city was cruelly ruined by a very late flight, a potential lawsuit looming over my work deal and a truly wicked hangover brought on by a ‘dinner’ of Veuve and canapés in the city the night before.) I shopped — but not in the indulgent glam way I had planned. Instead, I shopped for all of the items I had forgotten to pack in my tipsy haste: phone charger, toothbrush, sunglasses. Gucci, from the Galleria because why the hell not?
The next day, after nine hours of unconsciousness that I had desperately needed, we meet up with the crew and we drive to Como. It’s all Italian highways until suddenly it’s not: we’re high above that famous unnaturally blue-green lake.
What follows is four wonderful days of Como cliches: lobster spaghetti with million dollar views, lazy on the lido (who cares if swimming in Como is ‘touristy’, it’s also awesome), teaching Lady Lovelylocks how to order and drink a macchiato Italian-style, ferrying up to Bellagio, practising our terrible Italian flirtatiously with locals.
There are two glossy Como highlights.
On Sunday we rent a tiny little pleasure boat and skim around the lake’s edge to Nesso, a perfect little village built into the cliff. A waterfall trickles down behind it and under a tall stone bridge that is overgrown with vine leaves. We take turns plunging in off the boat, swimming to the slippery stone steps of the village, climbing them like wet seals, running the ancient covered walkway to the bridge and then, in groups for courage, jumping off. It’s exhilarating.
Later that day we have dinner at the most wonderful place — a spot so strongly recommended by my ‘work wife’, Missy, that she’d gone ahead and booked it for me when she was in Como with her husband in June. It’s Enoteca Cava Turacciolo and it’s a tiny wine cave dug under the steep streets of Bellagio. It seats 20. It has no menu. It has the most phenomenal wine and you can pick to taste reds or wines or a mix, local or Italian or international. They then match your food to your wine. We had the loveliest meal of lake fish three ways, handmade cheese ravioli and a cured meat and cheese platter, with delicious wines. By the end, we could bare,y move. I’m ashamed to say we left cheese on the plate. Poor Flanagan — the biggest wine lover of us all, but skip the most chivalrous dude you’ll ever meet — stays sober and drives us home. This is no mean feat on the curvy, tight roads of Como. With five girls packed into space for four. Playing Bieber really loudly.
Now I’m on the way home, with a few hours to kill in Milano, alone save my credit card. I’ve now shopped the way I’d wanted to initially, including lunching here in a private courtyard with the most ridiculous address. See above. It is perfect.