Trip Report: Milan, Piedmont, Lake Como

We spent few weeks in Northern Italy. Milan is worth a stopover, if you are into design and opera. The food is scene is pretty good. Driving around Lake Como is an adventure and highly recommended. Piedmont has good trekking routes through the vineyards, should have packed some hiking gear.

Milan: Stayed at Park Hyatt, great location and rooms. We enjoyed two nights of Opera at La Scala as well as a guided tour of the theater. The shopping district was within walking distance as well as the major interior design showrooms. Would highly recommend a visit to Armani/Silos (designed by Tadao Ando) as well as ADI design museum.

  • MU Dimsum. This was in a residential neighborhood close to the rail station. Interior was modern with dark and wood accents. The food was delicious, xiao long bao was better than DTF, which says a lot. The dishes were presented with a creative spin. Great wine list; vintage bottle of Drappier paired wonderfully well. Don’t know why it doesn’t have a Michelin star. Very highly recommended.

  • Savo Pizza. While visiting MU Dimsum, we passed by this pizza place and we were very intrigued and decided to visit the following day. The innovative, gourmet pizza was one of the best we have had. The pizza bread is out of this world. We filled ourselves to the brim here. What a delight. Very highly recommended.

  • Sadler. One Michelin star and in my one word: indifferent. The setting is in a gorgeous neighborhood, with interior that’s is warm yet classy. The food was decent at best. They are trying to introduce “Asian flavors” in the name of innovation and they butchered it. There was Pani-poori appetizer, which had a semi-fried shell with lobster. Pani means water and the chef (who is Korean) didnt have a clue. He tried passing off a grilled eel dish (a traditional Korean dish) as eastern innovative dish. The wine list was worse than in MU Dimsum. Wanted to try a Bucci and the somm wanted to upsell an expensive bottle of Fiano. Easy pass.

  • Bugande. This was the worst meal in Milan. Set in Navigli district we sat outside for lunch on a sunny day. The carpaccio was inedible, I barely fished by rabbit dish. The pasta was mediocre at best. Avoid.

Piedmont: We stayed at Palas Cerequio, set in the middle of Cerequio vineyard with modern rooms and outstanding views. Its 3 minute drive from La Morra through incredibly steep roads. It was fun to drive through Brunate and into Cerequio and facing Cannubi. The plan of running through the vineyards turned out to be more of a hike through the in vineyards. Given we were dining out each night, we skipped lunch and squeezed some kind of workout in.

  • Le Torri. It was packed to the brim for lunch so we visited for dinner. The food and hospitality was so good that visited a few times in our trip. Family run business, dad is the chef, the mom and sister take care of the service while the son Matteo is the somm. We did a tour of the wine celler and got a wine thats off the list! Tried multiple dishes everyting was great, but the egg starter dish is worth travelling for. Cant wait to go back next. Very highly recommended.

  • Bovio. I suppose its on everyone’s cards. Setting is warm with an old charm. The wine list is a killer one, Ramonet Ruchottes was particularly attractive. Got a thumbs up from the somm for the choice. Note: portions are on the higher side and very tasty too. Highly recommended.

  • Osteria Veglio. The restaurant is German owned, the Keller wines were of particular interest, so were the grower champagnes. The service was quick and efficient, the food could have been better. Recommended.

Lake Como: We stayed in Torno at il Sereno. Read an article on bloomberg/ Conde nest that it was designed by Patricia Urquiola (we are a big fans of) we jumped at it. The hotel is a masterpiece of design, location and add to that an excellent service, it was a pleasure to stay. Driving our car through the narrow, bending roads from Como to Torno to Bellagio and around the lake was a thrilling experience. The views are better from above looking down at the lake/ villages than from the boat up.

  • Komo Fusionable taste. What a find in old town of Como. The Japanese chef is master of innovative sushi. If the chefs got us hooked with incredible dim sums (its a notch above MU Dim Sum and whatever I have had in the US) the nigri’s were another level. Would have loved to get wine (decent selection) but the prospect of driving 20 minutes on these roads got me to stick with water. Very highly recommended.

  • il Serano restaurant. One Michelin star and in my one word: disappointing. I was warned before that the food is a big let down and my friend’s assessment was right. The waiter was constantly trying to upsell both the food as well as the wine. Mixing some Indian and Asian ingredients with local produce, doesn’t necessarily combine well. The pistachio pasta dish was the worst pasta I have had, and the green cod was perhaps the most flavorless food I have ever eaten. This was the most expensive and worst meal of the trip! AVOID.

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Thank you for the write up. Heading there at the end of September. This will come in handy.

Any sites, museums, churches, whatever sightseeing of note in any or all of the three places? My experience do date has been if you’re not drinking wine, eating, shopping or staring at a lake or vineyard not much to do otherwise. Other than the obvious RELAXING.

The Last Supper is in Milan.

If you aren’t doing anything other than eating or shopping in Milan, you aren’t trying.

Hi Joe,

Please note my wife and I prefer non-touristy places, prefer not to have a checklist and run away to avoid crowds. We did a day trip to Florence and realized we wanted our peace back and headed back to Milan earlier. With that said some suggestions:

Milan: As I mentioned I would highly recommend a tour of La Scala. Even if not an opera buff, its worth checking out. We skipped the last supper guided tour, we found Arami/Silos and ADI museum relaxing, educational and beautiful.

Piedmont we enjoyed hiking through many vineayrds and in Lake Como I enjoyed the drives; was the highlight of our trip. Well there’s visiting producers in Piedmont which can take up a lot of time. Nothing else comes to my mind in Piedmont or Lake Como area other than walking around small towns/ villages. Hence we liked it the best, as we relaxed the most!

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The Last Supper just might fit the bill for a Saturday afternoon for us. Thanks.

Other recos?

Milan, easy pass for me. YMMV

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Brera is a world class Art museum.

Castilello Sforzesco especially if they have reopened the room da Vinci painted.

If you like homes that have been turned into museums: Villa Necchi Campiglio

The duomo, great rooftop view, great facade and lively square even if you don’t go in.

Peck- the best food store/delicatessen in Italy. Great wine selection but top dollar.

Navigli district for walking by the canal at dusk. If you drink any of the many bars there, you can eat from their extensive buffet for free. Not top quality but not terrible. A very, very lively scene.

By the way, I love Milan. Been about 5 times.

Others don’t

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I can understand how Milan can be divisive, especially for those making a once or twice in a lifetime Italian visit. It is fundamentally commercial, now and throughout its history, loaded with commotion, crowds and – yes – graffiti. I find that if one can take the time to get past these initial sets of obstacles, there is so much to be appreciated. So many destinations in Italy are like fairy tale locales, where one can wander and stumble into a miracle around almost every corner. Sometimes, though, the reality of the cappuccino is less appealing than that layer of foam, so to speak. Milan is less accessible than Rome, Venice, Florence, etc., but no less worthy. Much of the beauty and fascination of Milan lies behind the facades and porticoes, thus harder to access literally and figuratively, but perseverance is very well rewarded IMO.

Jonathan

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