Italy is impossible not to fall in love with. The romance, the history, the people, the food.
Starting in Venice for a friends 40th, we stayed at the beautiful Ruzzini Palace strategically placed on a canal. It was formally an aristocratic home of the 16th century and still holds all the charm and exquisite demeanour of the time. I’ve always loved Venice, there’s something about the energy and atmosphere that is so romantic and makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to somewhere more regal and mischievous. I jumped at the chance to go back!
Kicking off the 40th festivities in an abandoned shipping yard, it was the picture perfect scene for brunch. A burning manesque themed open warehouse space with lounging cushions spread throughout, the family’s sailing mast hung from the ceiling and an abundance of traditional Venetian food to munch on. The Turbans were the live entertainment, a nomad band who every summer start in London and bike ride to Goa, playing gigs along the way and who’s sound is influenced but the new members from Turkey, London, India, Poland, Caledonia. They walks with bells on their ankles and their music is an interesting as their story. The afternoon was spent learning how to race a gondola and subsequently racing the gondolas while sipping a spritz’s.
The 40th birthday weekend finished with a lavish dinner and drinks at Marco’s family home in Venice (nephew of the Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro), it’s an understatement to say their home was extraordinary! 5 stories, free flowing liquor and unadulterated luxury.
From Venice, we hired a car and decided to drive to Lake Como. Not specifically for George Clooney although, I wouldn’t object to seeing his beautiful face but for a certain hotel, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. Hotel Serbelloni is a throw back to the Grand Budapest Hotel with the most picture perfect location of Bellagio.
Bellagio is a quiet, glamorous town situated on the cape of the southern branches of Lake Como. It”s filled with beautiful antique stores, gelato stalls and lake side restaurants perfect for an afternoon Aperol Spritz. My favourite spots for an afternoon perch are The Serbelloni or Suisse, the salt baked fish is to die for!
The drive from Bellagio to Milan has to be one of the most frightening and spectacular drives I’ve ever been on, especially trying to manoeuvre the the winding roads out of Lake Como.
With only one night in Milan, the Milan Cathedral was first on the to-do list. It’s an exceptionally large and elaborate Gothic cathedral on the main square of Milan, its hauntingly beautiful and imposing. Seeing some of the Italian architecture makes me question why we have become so boring with modern day architecture, it’s all so breathtaking!
For our one night in Milan, we decided to try the Michelin starred vegetarian restaurant, Joia, for dinner. Don’t let the word ‘vegetarian’ frighten you off, Joia has to be one of the best restaurants I have ever been to! Joia’s cuisine is not just vegetarian, but made using only biological ingredients. Nature and a pure taste are at the core of the menu. Chef Pietro Leemann cooks vegetarian out of conviction. He wants to offer “nonviolent” dishes. The Himalayan curry was arguably the best I have ever tasted. Do yourself a favour (even if you’re the most devoted carnivore) and try Joia, IF you can get a reservation….