Road Trip Part 1: The Journey to Como

Written by Katie Parla on October 1, 2010

Lake Como and the monument to Alessandro Volta.

I have Sicilian blood, a Salentine soul, and a Roman accent. Needless to say, northern Italy feels a bit foreign to me. But that is one of the reasons I enjoy visiting so much. I can feel as though I have left Italy (at least the one that I know) and traveled to another country where the food, history, language and culture are completely different.

It was with this in mind that Papa Parla and I headed north after picking up our rental car at Fiumicino Airport earlier this week. Our destination was Lombardy, a region I haven’t properly visited since 2002 when I was doing research for my senior thesis. More precisely, we were headed to Como. It would be both of our first trips to the town and lake of the same name.

Tagliolini ai funghi porcini at Navedano.

According to Michelin, the drive should have taken 6 hours. What Michelin could not have predicted was our driving habits. Neither Papa Parla nor I are able to stay awake long in moving vehicles, and roadside naps are a norm. We had a particularly restful 90-minute sleep in the parking lot of a shopping center in Chiusi, then another near Bologna in a roadside picnicking area. All the napping really slowed us down and it took 11.5 hours to make the trip from Rome to Como. And this was without traffic…

Upon arrival, we checked into a hotel near the lakefront and headed out to look for a place for a light dinner. By then it was completely dark and, without a map, we got turned around and ended up in the hills above Como where we happened upon a beautiful property called Navedano. This super posh place is part restaurant and part botanical garden. We wandered in looking like a couple of slobs who had spent half the day sleeping in a car, yet the gracious hosts accommodated us.

Sweetbreads at Navedano.

The dining room was gorgeous, beautifully decorated and filled with antiques and enormous flower arrangements created by the owner Giuliano, who is also an expert gardener. Dinner was wonderful, as well. We had tagliolini ai funghi porcini, sweetbreads, veal cheek, and an apple tart with vanilla ice cream. We paired our meal with a 2006 Valtellina Superiore “Sassella”, a wine made with Chiavennasca grapes (the local name for nebbiolo) by the Triacca brothers. Our attempt at a light meal had been thwarted, but this was nothing a long nap would’t clear up.

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