Friday, February 29, 2008

Lo Zampino from Pasticceria "Da Bruno"

Caffè Pasticceria da "Bruno"
Via Lelia, 24 - Reoaro Terme (VI)
A specialty of Recoaro Terme, it literally translates to "Little foot", but as you can see, in no way does this baked product resemble anything like the foot of an animal. So what's in a name anyway? A sweet dough type of bread, the original zampino boasts almonds and chocolate, while other versions include citrus or plain almond. Since it was expected that a lot of folks would be in town for the Chiamata di Marzo, we had arrived early in order to stake out an ideal viewing spot (next to Da Bruno pastry shop!) - ahem - only to end up passing the pre-parade minutes munching on these delightful mousse and fruit tarts.

The Original Zampino
with almonds and chocolate
Being accustomed to the practice of picking up gifts (omiyage) to share with family/friends, purchasing this attractively packaged zampino was a given. It's only that in Italy there is no such cultural equivalent as far as I know, hence, even if *I* keep an eye out for food items with the best of intentions for my in-laws, we almost always end up busting into and devouring the goods at home. I point the finger at the pastry shops. It's their fault for wrapping and presenting products with such elegance and finesse!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hiking above Lake Como: in 2 hours tops

On the trails again! Most of the hikes we've done wouldn't be as easily accessible without the convenience of a car, so I'm glad to include this one if public transport is your only means of reaching Como. The hike can be planned as an all-day itinerary which includes a return trip by boat to Como but we're saving that for another day when spring arrives. The trail actually begins in Brunate, a small town perched high above the lake, and is quickly reached by way of the Como-Brunate funicular railway within walking distance from the Como train station. Yesterday was a 60-minute walk to a small chapel located about halfway on the route. It offers a discreet view of the lake and there are several benches to sit for a spell before heading back. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy your time in this famous part of Italy.

Campari has its own publicity fountain.
Upon arrival in Brunate (less than 10 minutes), follow the steps down to the main road and head right; it'll take about 15 minutes to get to the start of the trail. You'll encounter two forks enroute - always stick to the left which descends. A soccer field is at the end - keep to the right of it. The Strada Regia (Royal Road) sign directs the way. In less than 1/2 hour a trail junction points to several directions; follow for Montepiatto. A 2nd junction - and the chapel - appears in another 30 minutes. Total trip time: 2 hrs.

Note: This segment of the hike proceeds on fairly level ground. Exercise caution if the area has recently been hit by heavy rains. Bring a light jacket/sweater as this side of the lake is in shade during the morning. Mouse over the images below for descriptions.