This month’s LGI Picks! checks off three of our must-do’s. Locanda dell’Isola Comacina is a restaurant located on Comacina Island in beautiful and majestic Lake Como, Italy. An island rich in history, art and tradition, it is impossible not to feel the true wonder of this special place. Isola Comacina’s past is a turbulent one: from the Lombards’ invasion in 569 to the legendary war between Como and Milan in the middle ages to after WWI when the island was given to the King of Belgium. Throughout this time, Isola Comacina soaked up more and more history. It is even said that the island was home to the Holy Grail for a short time. It is also said that an anonymous poet placed a curse on the island in 1127. Supposedly, the curse remains to this day.
Spending an afternoon lunch at the restaurant immerses you into the lore and culture of the island and of Italy. After docking on the shore of the island, visitors are greeted by the “Oste” or pub owner, Benvenuto Puricelli. He takes his guests on a short tour of the island before stopping at La Botte, his bar, for a refreshing drink. Then, he leads guests to the Locanda to enjoy a traditional, rich, delicious Italian meal – at his leisure. You see, here on Comacina Island, everyone is on Signore Puricelli’s time. A five-course meal begins, and all restaurant guests are served at the same time. A standard menu exists affording guests the ability to sit back, relax, drink, and become part of Isola Comacina’s history.
The simple flavors of the Antipasto all’isolana course will truly stay with you forever. Guests then enjoy trota alla contrabbandiera and rottami di pollo in padella, two more courses with flavors to last a lifetime. During the fourth course, Grana all’escavadora, a piece of Italy’s world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano is cut from the middle of the cheese form and placed directly into each guest’s hand – a notion that you will likely not experience elsewhere. After the Arance alla castellana course, Signore Puricelli treats his guests to caffe all’uso delle canaglie in armi, a long-standing tradition where, at the sound of the bell, he enters the room or veranda and burns brandy in the “pot” while delighting guests with the history of the island. Typically, he even chooses a lovely woman from the small crowd to take the first taste of his drink calling her “la più bella vergine della terra” (the fairest virgin of the land).
Visiting Locanda dell’Isola Comacina you will join the likes of George Clooney, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, Gina Lollobrigida, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and more, all of whom have photos with Signore Puricelli lining the walls.
A true Italian experience, an afternoon spent on Isola Comacina will live in your memory forever.
All photos courtesy of www.comacina.it