The Enchanting Villa Carlotta on 16Apr2014

10252148_10152108866445662_1904424028743536863_n the enchanting villa carlotta is located in tremezzo just past the grand hotel tremezzo palace. there is an open carpark free parking area next to it, and the jetty for the lake shuttle for bellagio & varenna ia also located nearby. 🙂

we had sometime before dinner after returning from pigra cable car at argegno, & villa carlotta fits in the schedule well. 10308133_10152108866380662_250614155345170435_n1609925_10152108866295662_6784631393572576435_n



the villa sat on hilly terrain at the lakefront. there was a massive gate & a beautiful fountain area with pruned hedges that were 6m tall! little bit like a maze. looked beautiful especially from the lake view balcony on level 3.



the enchanting villa was built in the late 17th century, and bought in 1843 by Princess Marianne of Nassau, Albert’s of Prussia wife, who gave it as a present to her daughter Carlotta in occasion of her wedding with Georg II of Saxen-Meiningen. Hence the name Villa Carlotta. Georg II was fond of botany, & the fascinating romantic gardens were well known for its century old cedars and sequoias, rock garden, ferns valley and bamboos garden, and the many varieties of azeleas & rhododendrons. 🙂

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my wife & daughter felt that villa carlotta gardens were more attractive than keukenhof gardens. in the sense that there were 100 year old cedars & sequoias & bamboo patches spread over rolling knolls in an outdoor natural landscape setting extending over 7hectares, it did have its unique beauty.  keukenhof though was 4times in size about 32hactares. 🙂

we were looking forward to dinner, quite expecting a delightful evening at la darsena, the dinner recommendations by our b&b proprietress. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Pigra Cable Car at Argegno Lake Como on 16Apr2014


after a wonderful lunch at pizza balognett, we took a short 15mins drive to argegno & managed to park right below the pigra cable car entrance on 16.4.2014. 🙂

pigra cable car, 1 of the steepest in europe, was opened in 1971. it took you from 200m to 850m in less than 5 minutes, or about 8km/hr.  it is actually capable of 5m/s or about 18km/hr. of course if you c/w taipei 101 just regards speed, that lift goes up at 60km/hr! 🙂

the adult return fare was 3.90euros. see the tariff & schedule here. 🙂

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the view at the top was awesome, such a beauty to behold. 🙂




it was like a top-of-the-world feeling. you could see the small town of argegno populating the shoreline. 🙂10258768_10152327729449494_610356105448171779_n 10265614_10152327730844494_4234315811545095709_o 1484662_10152108856140662_5038915772151073548_n

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10312005_10152108856015662_8327047963765080833_na wonderful liberated feeling! 🙂

we did not have time to do the trails to belvedere. so we took the 4pm cable car down & drove back to tremezzo & made a short tour of villa carlotta before a nice dinner at la darsena. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy


Best Meal at Lake Como @ Alle Darsene on 17Apr2014

7 lake fishes done in different ways

7 lake fishes done in different ways – 15euros

had the best meal at lake como at alle darsene on 17.4.2014. 🙂

alle darsene is located next to villa melzi, but it is on the other side, so a rather long walk from the bellagio ferry jetty. we had a leisurely morning & visited varenna (& the shopping). we walked on the narrow road just bordering villa melzi to reach alle darsene. on the way back we decided to just pay 9euro each & walk through villa melzi. ok was but a pleasant stroll through the gardens. 🙂

our first order was the lake fishes (top photo), since we were at lake como. it was excellent, better even than that at daserna. all the 7 fishes, cured or smoked or pickled, as well as the roe, were all excellent. 2 thumbs up! 🙂

grilled octopus on a very tasty broth

grilled octopus on a very tasty broth – 15euros

and the grilled octopus, that was the best i had during this trip, better even than miky at monterosso, cinque terre. the broth was really good! i would recreate this at home, that is if i can find the octopus. 🙂

beef tartar with burrata & truffle - 15euros

beef tartar with burrata & truffle – 15euros

& the beef carpaccio was again par excellence. so sweet & tasty. my daughter & i loved it(though my wife was a bit off beef tartare). i could have this again! 🙂

fillet of sole pan seared then baked with lentils & mussels - 20euros

fillet of sole pan seared then baked with lentils & mussels – 20euros

and the fillet of sole was so good. even the lentils (though i don’t like too much of it) was very tasty with the sweet, lovely mussels. such great dish this! 🙂 i not so successful with western fish dishes except for my quite excellent cod, but i might try to do this as well. 🙂

very good catavelli with octopus, clams & muscles, excellent seafood broth - 16euros

very good catavelli with octopus, clams & mussels, excellent seafood broth – 16euros

the catavelli pasta was likewise excellent, and the octopus, clams, mussels & the seafood broth. 🙂 this i would also try to recreate.


my daughter ordered a chocolate – so pretty

every single dish was excellent. this a restaurant i would not miss if i come again. 🙂

because of the location, it is inconvenient though for dinner if not staying at bellagio as there is a ferry to catch! 😦 that was why we changed our prior booking from dinner to lunch.

c.h.e.f andy

Good Dinner Set @ la Darsena Tremezzo on 16Apr2014

45euros pax menu darsena #1 selection of 5 lake fishes done different ways

45euros pax menu darsena #1 selection of 5 lake fishes done different ways

la perla’s proprietress was very friendly & enthusiastic. she made 2 restaurant recommendations for dinner on 16.4.2014. we picked la darsena, restaurant at hotel la daserna located at the road junction entering the main road coming from la perla b&b, and she made a reservation for us. 🙂

we went to pigra cable car at argegno after lunch & still found time to wonder through the beautiful villa carlotta and got back to la perla 6-ish, so dinner at darsena at 8pm was ‘perfecto’. 🙂

the owner’s son waited on us. a very friendly & helpful guy. he recommended some of their signature dishes & as couple of them were already on the 45euros pax 4-course menu darsena, we ordered 2 sets plus 1 order of pasta to share among the 3 of us.

food was overall good, quite above average, just did not bowl us over.

#1 the selection of 5 lake fishes done different ways (top photo) was their signature dish & really good, though personally i felt the one at the alle darsene lunch the next day was even better. this a dish i would pick if ordering ala carte. this seemed to be a popular starter dish in restaurants here & also in cinque terre.

45euros pax menu darsena #2 crispy perch fillet risotto

45euros pax menu darsena #2 crispy perch fillet risotto

#2 the crispy perch fillet risotto though was below expectation. texture-wise risotto were always done very well al dente in all the restaurants including darsena. taste-wise though we were expecting a bit more. the perch tasted quite dry & flat & the risotto was quite plain. portions in italy were quite large & i ended up taking more than i should 😦 to make up the smaller quantities my wife & daughter took.

seafood pasta - ala carte

seafood pasta – ala carte

the seafood pasta, also 1 of their recommendations, looked good but also tasted average or just better. spaghetti was the thicker version & somewhat less al dente. the dish was ok just not as tasty as expected.

45euros pax menu darsena #3 lemon sorbet

45euros pax menu darsena #3 lemon sorbet

#3 this 1/2 eaten lemon sorbet was excellent. the owner’s son said he owned a gelato stall further down the road & he made these himself & brought them over to serve at darsena. 🙂

45euros pax menu darsena #4  fillet of pork

45euros pax menu darsena #4 fillet of pork

#4 the fillet of pork was good actually. unfortunate not sure what was the combination of factors, i had either tired from the driving or taken too much of the risotto & pasta, or the wine, i was feeling drowsy & also not comfortable. in the end i took only 1 quarter off my plate & my wife & daughter were also too full to take any. the portions were also truly huge in italy. 🙂

45euros pax menu darsena #5 trio of desserts

45euros pax menu darsena #5 trio of desserts

#5 the dessert combo of custard with some crumble inside, apple tart & chocolate mousse was excellent. 🙂

overall, except for the crispy perch, i think it was actually a very good set for the price 45euros. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy