Category Archives: Lake Como

Lecco: Between Lake Como and the Alps

Want to see (and, in winter, ski) the Alps? Get off the train in Lecco and walk across the station parking lot to the bus stand in via Montello, where the #5 bus departs, roughly every hour, for the Funivia (you can buy bus tickets at the newsstands inside or outside the railway station, or on the bus itself, though that will cost more).

Take the #5 all the way up the hill to the end of the line at the Funivia (cable car). Take the cable car to Piani d’Erna:

…where you will find ski facilities, restaurants, hotels, bars, and an unbeatable view of this end of Lake Como (above).

Pizzo d'Erna, Aug 22 2004

Tourist Information for Lecco

Lecco to Bellagio by Boat: A Beautiful Day on Lake Como

The ferry runs from Lecco (on Lake Como’s southeastern tip) only from spring to fall. The slow boat to Bellagio (one and a half hours) is the best way to see this branch of the lake. With its steep, craggy mountainsides plunging down into the water, it’s reminiscent of a Norwegian fjord.

mountainside from boat on Lake Como, Lecco

The boat hops back and forth across the lake, stopping first at Mandello.

Mandello boat dock, Lake Como

Along the way you see gorgeous lakeside villas (no, not George Clooney’s!):

villa on Lake Como, Italy

Enjoy the fresh air, sparkling water…

view from boat, Lake Como, Italy

…and warm sunshine…

boat ride on Lake Como, Italy

…arriving in good time for lunch in Bellagio.

Guests of Conti Sertoli Salis: Part 3, Wine!

When we finished seeing the palazzo, we had a little stroll in the garden, in which an intricate, manicured geometric hedge is winningly juxtaposed with overgrown and out-of-control everything else. My favorite photo of the day is above – autumn red vines draping down a stone plaque. The boast of the garden is a glorious, ancient cedar of Lebanon. I wish I owned a tree like that one.

^ a tromp l’oeil gazebo built into a wall in the garden

Then we were invited inside for the wine tasting. A large party of retirees occupied the canua (a semi-underground kitchen/taverna) usually used for tasting, and they didn’t look like leaving anytime soon, so we had to improvise. Pancrazio helped carry a table and chairs from another part of the palazzo

…and we sat in an anteroom full of antique winemaking implements.

We had:

  • Torre della Sirena – white
  • Il Saloncello
  • Canua (a sfursat)

…and two others that I don’t now remember – I’m a very disorganized wine reporter! “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like.” I liked these. And I was very pleased to be given six bottles of the Canua to take home as wages for my translation.

There was also bread, cheese, and salame – had we known to expect that, we could have skipped lunch (though that would have been a pity to miss).

The Sertoli Salis winery is well worth a visit, both as a historical site and, of course, a place to try and buy some great wine. Tours can be arranged in English.

Part 1: Lunch

Part 2: The Palazzo

Part 3: Wine!

Guests of Conti Sertoli Salis: Part 2, The Palazzo

After an excellent (if somewhat hasty) lunch, the four of us had a private tour of Palazzo Sertoli Salis, which is still the home of the Sertoli Salis family, as well as the headquarters of the winery.

My photos don’t do justice to it: the palazzo is charming, rich with newly-restored tromp l’oeil frescoes cleverly designed to make the ceilings appear far higher than they are.

The paintings and furniture were intended to display wealth, yet the style is somehow appealing and cozy. Some of the family’s collection of antique documents and pictures is displayed museum-style, with (unusually for Italy) explanatory text in several languages.

^ Detail of the saloncello (small salon). Sertoli Salis’ “titled” wines are named after features of the palazzo.

Part 1: Lunch

Part 2: The Palazzo

Part 3: Wine!

Guests of Conti Sertoli Salis: Fine Food and Wine in Valtellina

Part 1: Lunch!

Many moons ago, spurred by a question on, I wandered the Internets, looking up wineries in the nearby region of Valtellina. Several had sites, some gorgeously produced. Sertoli Salis particularly caught my eye because the site was so very beautiful, and I knew the wines to be good, but the English translation was laughable.

Desperate for extra income, I wrote them, hoping to be offered the job of re-translating the site. They replied that, having just spent a lot of money to redo the site, they couldn’t pay cash, but there might be some wine in it for me.

They sent me the files, I translated a small piece and sent it to them, then my life got busy, I changed computers and lost some of the subsequent work I had done. The winery must have liked what they saw: they wrote asking if I could do the rest. Eventually I found the time (and some new wine-related vocabulary) to finish this not-small job and send it off.

NB: The English on the site today is not mine! It will be quite a job to replace the text on the site as it’s mostly embedded in the Flash – an unfortunate mistake made by many Italian web designers. The site is still well worth visiting for the beautiful photos.

I therefore had a standing invitation to visit the palazzo and winery for a tasting and a gift of “our very best wines”. Finally, last Saturday, we were able to make good on this offer.

Enrico and I set out with Pancrazio (a TVBLOB colleague) and Emanuela. Between bad weather and traffic we were an hour late for our lunch reservation at Ristorante Jim, which meant that we had to rush, while this fine establishment deserved more leisurely attention! Jim offers very interesting seasonal menus (in addition to a far-from-boring regular menu); this time the specialty was mushrooms and wild game.

porcini soup

Emanuela and I started with a vellutata di porcini (wild boletus mushroom soup). Oh, my. That was special. I want to go back and eat more of that.

The boys had tagliatelle al sugo di lepre – home-made egg pasta with wild hare sauce. Very gamey, very tasty.

For secondo, Emanuela had bocconcini di capriolo (“bites” of roebuck), which she said were tender enough to melt in your mouth. I had breast of wild duck in a balsamic vinegar reduction – I love duck, and this was even more flavorful than usual. Umm… don’t remember what Enrico and Pancrazio had, except that they both managed to squeeze in dessert afterwards!

Then we headed off to the object of our visit, the winery.

Part 1: Lunch

Part 2: The Palazzo

Part 3: Wine!