Just our luck…for our “babymoon” weekend getaway to Lago Maggiore, the weather reports were bad…really bad. But hey, what can you do but try to make the best of it! Did you know that it is Italy’s longest lake and is divided between Switzerland, Lombardy and yes…Piemonte?DAY 1: GATTINARA

The departure was our usual 2 hours late. We get past all the traffic until we realize we forgot our bag of Easter gifts for friends and decide we might as well have lunch at this point, get some focaccia, go to the bathroom and set off once again. It was a decent day’s weather gone to waste, but we managed to stop in Gattinara on the way, a sleepy wine town known for their wine.

Not entirely impressed by the town itself, we decided to stop by the only winery we knew, Travaglini. Luckily we found Massimo as soon as we rolled into the driveway and even without prior notice, he stopped what he was doing to show us their spectacular winery. Gattinara DOCG wines are made from Nebbiolo and aged pretty much like Barolos for 36 months of which 12 must be aged in the barrel. After showing us the biggest barrels I have ever seen, Massimo scurried off and came back with some salami and a bottle of Nebbiolo for us. Thank god we went back for that bag of gifts in the morning (a homemade salami was in there) so Claudio ran to the car to make a fair trade and return the favor!

The best part of the day was our dinner at La Lombarda once we got settled into Stresa.

DAY 2: STRESA – LAGO MAGGIORE IN THE RAIN

Rain rain go away! I guess it was a good excuse to sleep in till 11. We even thought about taking advantage of the one offered service in the hotel, the jacuzzi. But I realized being pregnant, soaking myself in boiling hot water was not probably ideal. So what else can you do when it rains? Eat and drink of course…but I can’t even do that while being preggo:(

Slowly making our way into town to get a coffee, we snagged an indoor table (rare at the lake) while we spent a good 2 hours trying to let my nausea pass. But with a little bit of “forza” and a bit of a break in the rain we decided to take advantage of our full half day in Stresa and take the bumpy little boats to the islands in the middle of the lake.

Although I am glad we did it, the rain and wind pretty much made it miserable. I could picture these islands being beautiful on a sunny day full of outdoor terraces and restaurants surrounded by colorful Spring flowers. At the same time I kind of appreciated the more authentic feel with fewer tourists. In order to kill time we walked into a restaurant for a hot bowl of minestrone at 3 pm. That was a first!

Hugging and trying to keep warm while waiting for the boat, we couldn’t wait to get back and meet our new friend Sarah and her husband Luca who own a local travel agency. We ended up having an aperitivo (a ginger soda for me) at one of the only bustling places called Al Buscion and went to a great restaurant with them called Il Vicoletto. It’s funny to feel like the minority being Italians in such a touristy city. We stuck out like a sore thumb again, being the last ones to leave the restaurant. Once again, dinner was the best part of the day!

DAY 3: ARONA – EASTER

Of course on check-out morning the sun was shining bright, people were out sipping their coffees on the patios overlooking the beautiful lake with the snowcapped mountains in the background. We downed a quick overpriced coffee and croissant and headed off to Easter mass. Unfortunately we had to leave Stresa in its splendor and drive to Arona on the southern part of the lake to meet our friends Daggy and Maddy for lunch.

We spent most of our sunny day indoors eating but enjoyed our friends’ company very much! The hustle and bustle, bars and of course the sunny day really impressed Claudio and me. We think we will stay there next time we visit the lake. After gelato, surprise cupcakes made by their girls, a fantastic asparagus dinner with some 2005 Luigi Baudana Barolo (I held back all week just for one full glass of this;)) we went to bed ready for our Pasquetta Porchetta day.

DAY 4: MORRAZONE (NEAR VARESE) WHERE OUR FRIENDS LIVE – PASQUETTA

I can’t say I was super excited about a porchetta lunch since I don’t eat meat but the highlight of the day was definitely the morning when we came up from our room to find the whole family ready to surprise Claudio with a happy birthday greeting, cake, candles, decorations and a traditional Dutch egg smashing game. Raining again, we drove to lunch.

What a difference from the classy restaurant we went to the day before. This yearly festa was held in a local pro-loco which is a community town center. Unfortunately I was out of luck with food choices and stuck to plain pasta like the little kids because I was struck with strong nausea AGAIN. In any case, we had a fun time with this crazy group of people and the splendid Daggy, Maddy and their girls. Unfortunately after the porchetta lunch it was time for us to hit the road!

Arrivederci laghi, amici, e Lombardia! Alla prossima!

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