One of our favorite days trips from Milan is to the quaint little city of Cernobbio, located on Lake Como. It’s probably about a mile long (or less), sits right on the lake, and is beautiful year-round, especially in the summer months when you can walk through the little city, sit outside in a restaurant with a refreshing glass of Prosecco and delicious cheese platter, or sip on a cappuccino in a cute cafe. I took the featured photo after a hike up the mountain that brought us to this gorgeous panoramic view of Lake Como.
I’ve jotted down some thoughts from previous trips of mine as I’ve been there on holiday at different times of the year (and also lived there for a short period of time years ago). I’ve included lots of photos and maps since I’m a really visual person – so hopefully that will help some of you as well 🙂 Feel free to comment and/or ask any questions that come up and I’ll try to give you any insight I have.
What is it about these little beauties that makes them so popular around the world? I first tried them back in 2004 when I lived in France for about four months, and while I wasn’t particularly wowed by the taste initially, I was instantly attracted to the tiny little delicate morsels, just sitting in the bakery windows all perfectly lined up, flashing their pretty colors at people as they walked by, hoping to be scooped up in little cellophane bags or small gift boxes.
“Change Your Thoughts & You Change Your World.” This afternoon I thought about the power of our thoughts, and the role our attitude and perspective plays in our day to day life. One of my clients had to reschedule a meeting last minute and I ended up with a couple of free hours … free hours that I wanted fill up by doing something ‘productive.’
If you ever head to southern Italy, do yourself a favor and make sure you try the mozzarella di bufala, a delicious specialty from the Campania region (Naples area). Honestly, it’s the best mozzarella I’ve ever had in my life. I guess you can say we have some pretty good imported mozzarella di bufala and burrata cheeses in San Francisco (we have a pretty big Italian population and “Little Italy”), but there’s just nothing quite like the real deal over here. It’s moist, dripping with buffalo milk, soft and the flavor is fantastic, especially when paired with prosciutto crudo: it’s a winning combination. If and when we move from Italy one day, this is one of the things that will top the charts in terms of things I miss.
Every meal is an important part of Italian life and culture – especially on Sunday when families gather together for a long lunch, one that usually last for a minimum of three hours. For Easter (Pasqua) this year we headed down to Gaeta, a beautiful city along the coast in southern Italy where some of my husband’s family lives. (It reminds me a lot of Sausalito, California if anyone is familiar with the Bay Area).
The mix of decorated bottles creates a beautiful look for lining a mantle, table or shelf. This was one of my DIY projects this week as I wanted to start making our place look a little more festive for the holidays. I used yarn and hemp for some of the more “natural” Asian-inspired looking designs, and white spray paint (matte finish) topped with thin gold flakes for the more decorative looking pieces. I love the contrast of materials with the gold-laced pinecones and accent color of the flower buds. It’s perfect for the holidays.
One of the first things I loved about Italy was their attention to detail – their presentation of food and desserts – which is such an important part of their culture. I remember seeing this gorgeous display of gelato when I was in Florence and almost couldn’t believe it was real… and not only does it look amazing, it’s equally as delicious. My favorite flavors are limone on a scorching hot day when I need something refreshing, or the combination of caffè and mascarpone e noci (mascarpone with walnuts) when I’m in the mood for something a little richer.
One of my favorite things to get when I visit Thailand is a dessert called Khao-Lam. It’s a speciality of the province of Phetchaburi, my dad’s hometown, which is famous for its cuisine and desserts. (Apparently, the cooks in the King’s Palace are always from this region, as they are “the best in Thailand,” which sounds a little biased, but quite honestly, the food there is pretty much amazing!). The dessert is made up of a sweet sticky rice (with coconut milk) and black bean mixture which is then placed into hollowed out bamboo pieces and grilled until the sticky rice becomes soft and warm… it’s seriously delicious. It’s pretty rich, so in the future I have to remember to not make the mistake of telling my relatives I love it or else they will buy endless bags of it, which you just can’t refuse (it’s a little like Italian culture in that respect). It’s like you can’t say no and hurt their feelings, so you are almost obligated to keep eating until you feel like you’re going to …
The old summer palace (aka “Monkey Hill”) in the province of Phetchaburi, Thailand that was built by King Rama IV. The decor is a combination of Thai, Chinese and European styles and the final construction was finished in 1858. There’s a tram that will take you up to the palace as it’s situated on a hill – the only thing I’ll warn you of is that the palace in inhabited by monkeys that freely roam to and from, and enjoy stealing from unsuspecting tourists. Keep your belonging tucked away!
While visiting Sicily last spring we decided to check out the quaint little city of Taormina. The layout is unique as Taormina has a beautiful beach with gorgeous clear water, but the city itself is located on a mountain – so since there’s limited space for car traffic (and parking), there’s a tram available to transport people who have parked at the base of the mountain up to the top. It’s really an incredible place to visit – with lots of food stands on the side of the streets, plenty of cafes and bars, historic buildings and museums. I loved wandering down little alleyways (such as the one pictured) and stumbling on markets and treasures. Taormina is also famous for “aranchini” which is basically a fried rice ball stuffed with a variety of different things: my favorite is the mozzarella and spinach, but some have pomodoro sauce, mushrooms, ricotta, prosciutto and cheese, sausage, ragu… the options are endless!
I know it’s only the first week of November and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet, but there’s nothing wrong with starting the festive decor a bit early! I love the way it makes my place feel, especially now that it’s getting really cold, crisp and rainy here in Milan. This week’s project is centered on the topic of “JOY”… accented with little gold star cut-outs. Just like the “L.O.V.E.” Home Decor project, all you need are some empty wine bottles, a hot glue gun, yarn and for this one specifically, some brown natural colored string.
While Italian cuisine is delicious, I’ve always liked variety when it comes to food – something that was completely normal growing up in San Francisco as the area is famous for its diversity (not only in terms of people, but restaurants as well). Anyone who’s been there knows you can find anything you’re in the mood for: sushi, Thai food, Chinese food, Korean BBQ, Greek, French and Italian cuisine, Mediterranean restaurants, Steakhouses, Salad Bars, Brazilian Churrascaria’s, Dim Sum, great Mexican food, Lebanese and Indian food… and the list goes on. We even have Little Italy (Italian quarter), Chinatown and Japantown in San Francisco.
Today was one of those gorgeous, crisp autumn days in Cernobbio (quite possibly our favorite little city/town on Lake Como). I had quickly snapped this shot as we were heading to the Wine & Food Style event that was being held at a venue across the lawn from this castle-looking structure – it was just too beautiful to pass up.