Most of our last day in Italy was spent in the car as we drove from Passignano up to Lake Como where we would be staying the night. We left just before 10am and drove past fields of sunflowers in varying stages of development. We traveled the first couple of hours along the mountainous spine of Italy as far as Bologna and then down on to flat plains of fields of maize, vines and apple orchards.
We got to Varenna early afternoon and checked into the hotel Olivedo. Apparently glamorous at ground floor level, its glamour dimmed the higher we climbed up the 7 flights of stairs to our attic room on the top floor. It had a skylight but no proper window, the only “window” being at floor level which meant you could only see out if you sat on the floor. The bed was rock hard as were the pillows and I hardly slept a wink that night. Part of the joys of travelling …..
and I went in search of the Villa Monastero, now used as a conference centre, as I wanted to visit its gardens. Unfortunately the gardens didn’t turn out to be as spectacular as I had hoped but it was my first visit to an Italian lakeside villa garden and it was interesting nonetheless.
I did however manage to get some recommendations for eating places from the receptionist. Varenna only has one road running through it but there are a couple of very narrow “streets” running parallel to it
After visiting the various venues she had recommended we finally settled on one which had a terrace overlooking the lake. We booked ourselves a table for later that evening. As my husband is a smoker we were offered a table on a small side terrace, away from the main terrace. There we were able to dine in quiet intimacy and enjoy the views of the setting sun, followed by a firework display on the other side of the lake. Small boats ferried passengers to and fro across the lake and we thought how romantic it must be to go out for dinner taking a small boat rather than a taxi.
The food was fantastic as was the wine. I had foie gras ice cream on a lolly stick, dipped in essence of balsamic vinegar and then rolled in crushed nuts – it was a bit like a Magnum ice cream on a stick. I tried another ice cream for dessert, this time a gorgonzola cheese one – it was delicious too. This was the second time I had sampled savoury ice creams, the last one being garlic ice cream served with red mullet and I’ve decided they are a good thing. I must learn how to make them for myself now.