These are just a few observations about my trip to Lake Como in Italy, having stayed in Bellagio for a few days for my honeymoon.
Regarding the wine – I thought that the prices seemed pretty reasonable, especially when compared to food costs. Prosecco seemed to be about €3.50 a glass and bottles seemed to go from €15-35 for the most part.
Don't get me wrong, Italy is still not the cheapest, especially in an area like Lake Como. But coming from London, there is certainly a difference in the prices on wine lists.
Half bottles also seem more prevalent. A good thing! We were able to have a half bottle of white, before a bottle of red with our meal. Extravagant, yes. But very enjoyable.
You notice this in France too. It's probably a tax thing, but the standard available for the price for wine is much better generally. This could just be because I have made these observations whilst enjoying myself on holiday.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all the wine on offer in Como is Italian wine. You don't see wine from anywhere else on the menus in my experience.
Anyway, my shiny, brand new wife and I were staying in the cute town of Bellagio and were able to cram in visits to a few excellent wine bars during our brief trip.
A Stormy Evening in Bellagio
Before heading for our meal, we decided to go to a bar for a few nibbles and glasses of Prosecco. We ended up in Cava Turacciolo, a cute wine bar tucked down a side street.
Having had miraculous luck during our wedding, we were probably past due some terrible weather.
Unfortunately for us, the heavens opened on our first night in Bellagio.
Being Brits, we are used to such things.
However, the waiting staff of Bellagio eateries get in a bit of a kerfuffle at the first sign of ANY airborne moisture.
We arrived at the Metropole during the height of the furore. The staff seemed to be having a close to a meltdown, striding about purposefully and gesticulating wildly to each other, whilst ignoring any new customers who arrived.
Most of the seated patrons seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing and continued with their meals. To be fair, the storm was quite epic to watch.
After finally being shown our seats, we were escorted from the terrace of the Metropole Hotel after about 10 minutes and told we MUST sit inside.
No one else seemed to be told the same, and after a brief look inside we did not fancy it at all. The lighting was awful and there was no atmosphere.
I am not sure how many of these places can get it so right on the terraces and not think about the area inside.
As the setting and the welcome did not match the prices, we decided to head off into the town to eat elsewhere. So long Metropole!
As anywhere, it can be difficult to find a restaurant with space at 20:15 on a Saturday, but we ended up in wine-cum-wine shop, Aperitveo et al.
This was a little bit further into the tiny town of Bellagio, a great place to come for a few drinks and luckily provided some food too.
The swordfish tartare was excellent, and we also went all out with some caviar and wine tasting flights. Why not?
The wine was local Lombardy wines, and each one was explained by a knowledgeable sommelier. I forget what each was now, having been distracted by opening a ton of wedding cards during the evening.
Make sure you leave room for the excellent Margherita's Torta al Ciccolato.
Both of these wine bars seemed friendlier and cosier than most of the restaurants which had the premium views of the lake. They also make excellent bolt holes if the weather turns violent.
Improved Weather for Our Second Evening
The next day we decided to skip the Metropole again, and decided we'd eat where we were staying, the Hotel du Lac. This had the added benefit of a 10% discount, as well as a great view from the 1st floor. Score!
The staff were excellent here, with each one providing excellent service. I liked the menu too, opting for the fish appetiser, burrata and for the main, the delicious truffle-laden beef tenderloin.
By this evening, the weather had cleared, so being on the terrace was glorious. Perfect for a long relaxing evening with great company, wine and food.
I don't claim to know too much about Italian wine, but I'd certainly like to understand more about the different regions and types.
There's a lot to learn, but it will be fun finding out!