Luino is a charming northern Italian lake town with an amazing backdrop of blue skies and mountains. Luckily for me, the majority of my family live here. I have visited Luino a few times now and I never tire of it. It’s a very tranquil place and being able to live like an Italian rather than a tourist is also a bonus. Family dinners, leisurely walks and eating with the locals, made my experience so much more authentic.
Luino is in the province of Varese, which is situated on the Lago Maggiore and the Swiss-Italian border. The lake is the second largest in Italy and is separates Luino from the region of Piemonte. The town itself is quite hilly but the lakefront is flat. The town is well-known for its Mercato di Luino (Wednesday market), which attracts Italians, Swiss, Germans and Dutch.
Luino has become quite a popular tourist destination. I have noticed a lot of changes on the lakefront and many new restaurants. I tried a few while I was here and all were very good (see below). Luino is also very close to the border of Switzerland. We usually drive over the border for shopping trips, chocolates and to visit nearby cities. While we here this time we also visited Lugano and Bellinzona and in Switzerland and Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso and Giro del sole in Italy. I will share some photos and information in upcoming posts.
These are some of the photos I took on the lakefront and around town. The view on Lago Maggiore is just so gorgeous. I asked my cousins if they appreciate this amazing natural beauty and surprisingly they do. They dislike the hustle and bustle of big cities like Milano and prefer their small town. One cousin said why would I want to leave, this is my paradise.
We had many beautiful lunches at the family homes. I wish I had taken more pictures of them. My family doesn’t eat a lot of meat. They often served seafood as a welcoming dish, with pasta or as a second course. Pasta was always served at least once a day, but usually twice. Dessert was not usually served. However, fresh whole fruits were always put on the table after lunch and dinner.
The first dish was my cousin’s famous seafood pasta. Her sauce was just amazing. This was the only first course. We were served schnitzel, potatoes and salad. The second dish was a fresh pasta that another cousin made with a basic red sauce. Although simple this was delicious. I also loved her pasta served with mushrooms and butter. These dishes were usually followed by cheeses, salads and vegetables.
Breakfast is almost nonexistent in my families households, which is typical in Italy. We were always offered coffee, with milk and sweet biscuits. One morning we did go out for breakfast with a cousin to Cafe Dolce Smeraldo. There was no formal breakfast menu, rather a selection of pastries, bread, sweets and coffee of course. Luckily they even had soy milk. So we ordered some croissants and cappuccinos. The coffee was perfect and exactly what I had been missing and the croissants were nicely crisp and buttery. Something I found odd both at home and in the cafe was that individual plates were not served with the pastries. You are usually given a napkin instead.
For lunch later that day we went out for piadinas at Divina Piadineria Gelateria. This flatbread toasted sandwiches the perfect answer to a light, hot lunch. They can also be served rolled (rotoli), which I hadn’t seen before in Italy. I had my piadina with proscuitto, potato, pesto and artichokes. I also had to try their delicious apple and raspberry gelato. This shop also offers coffees, pizza, crepes, salads and amazing cakes.
For dinner another night the young cousins took us out to the steakhouse, Trippolini. This was the first place I had been that looked like something that would be served at home. The portions were huge and every meal came with chips. They had a large selection of meats that were grilled or fried. The meat on everyone dishes was cooked really well and the vegetables were also a nice addition to the dishes.
We went out for pizza a couple of times and were not disappointed. The first place was La Rustica, which is a big family restaurant. They had a huge selection of pizzas, which is what the entire family ordered (all 22 of us). Everyone looked pretty happy with their choice. They also offer a large selection of pasta and seafood dishes.
The second place was Tre Re, which is a cosy little restaurant tucked in the narrow streets near the lake. They also have a large pizza menu and also offer pasta and main dishes. The piazzas were also really delicious and cooked to perfection.
Funny thing about Italy that there aren’t different sizes of pizza. There is only one size and everyone orders their own, even the children. It seems like a big meal, but it’s so nice and light that you don’t feel full and stoggy after. The pizzas are quite simple and you usually won’t see more than 4 toppings. You will never see chicken or pineapple on a pizza, seafood options usually don’t have cheese and cherry tomatoes are usually added after the pizza is cooked. You can order pizza with hot chips and wiener sausage, which is usually called the Tedesco (German).
My family are not big on dessert but after the big night out we all went to the best gelateria in town, Voglia di gelato. They offer a huge selection of artisan gelato’s made from the finest ingredients from different regions in Italy. They also offered dairy free and vegan flavours. I couldn’t go past the vegan chocolate and vanilla.
I hope you enjoyed visiting my family’s homeland. If you would like to visit this gorgeous little town, see Trip advisor for things to do, restaurants and accommodation. I guarantee you will fall in love with this little piece of paradise.