Does the word Bellagio ring a bell? Of course, it does! It is hard to find a person who hasn’t heard of the world famous Las Vegas casino. But then, how many of us know the name was inspired by a little Alpine town near Lake Como, in North Italy? Team Ultrafino went to Bellagio to absorb the charm and cuisine that bowled over MGM Resorts.
When someone tells you the town of Bellagio is a little paradise on earth, they sure aren’t lying. The train ride from Milan to Bellagio itself is as spectacular as it can get. We cross through tunnels carved out of rock, orange orchards and plenty of geese, courtesy of Lake Como which sticks close to the rail tracks throughout the journey.
Bellagio is a strip of terrain nosing into the waters as Lake Como flows on either side of it. It resembles a pinnacle on a Christmas star. The town is surprisingly quiet and, as with most of the architecture across Italy, all the facades are mostly carved out of stone and face the lake.
Also, since the terrain is mountainous near the Alps, most of the houses are built over hilltops with steep stairs going uphill every thirty yards. A leisurely stroll takes us past a lot of gastro bars and wine cellars pockmarked around the place.
Italy is known all over the world for its quality of wine. Every province in the country is home to a unique collection of wine with tastes changing across the species of grapes and the time they take to ferment it. The wineries in Bellagio hold the best of the lot from all the provinces of Italy. But since the Alpine town lies in North Italy, we thought of tasting wine from that region.
The first wine in our tasting session was Sforzato, also nicknamed the “pearl” of Valtellina. This nickname comes from the concentrated taste obtained by the drying of grapes on racks and the time it takes for the essence to drip down to the final product. This makes it rich in color and taste and also comes off quite heavy on the pockets.
Next, we tried this unique wine called the Muscat of Scanzo. It is a sweet wine made from black grapes. The quirky thing about this wine was its terming. It was called a ‘meditation’ wine because it is good to sip it in silence and when alone, deep in your thoughts. The locals say it is a wine that should be taken out of the cellar after many years of being in the bottle, to be enjoyed reading a book near a fireplace or sitting under the sun watching birds fly by. Quite fascinating, isn’t it?
We ended our wine tasting session with a gourmet wine called the Franciacorta, suitable for a fine dining experience. The wine is thick and is said to age well. Interestingly, it has bubbles popping up near the wine glass rim when you pour yourself a share. It also works very well with a merry little meal with family.
And thus, we wind up our wine tasting tour across North Italy. Looking to bring in new episodes in the near future. Until then, ciao!