Traditional Mountain Rifugio Restaurants Near Bellagio

>Traditional Mountain Rifugio Restaurants Near Bellagio

For some, Lake Como is a chic destination for pretty people sipping sparkling wine on a vintage wooden boat anchored of a shore lined with luxury villas. For others, the Lake Como landscape is a smorgasbord of natural beauty just waiting to be discovered – from craggy windswept peaks to vast mountain top meadows, cool forest paths to gentle slopes carpeted in colorful wildflowers. What’s the best part of spending the day in the mountains high above Lake Como? The cool alpine breeze – absolutely. The panoramic views – most definitely, but running a very close third would have to be the opportunity to indulge in traditional mountain fare at a so-called “rifugio” or a “baita”.

Translated from the Italian, a “rifugio” is literally a refuge, and harks back to the days when they were actually a matter of life and death for traders and travelers taking the perilous trek across the mountains. These chalets, located in some cases in the most improbable and isolated of areas usually provide a basic level of accommodation – from dorm-style bunk beds to more hotel-like private double or family rooms – and simple meals to hikers and mountain bikers who prefer to stay above the fray for days on end. In the meantime, some of the more basic mountain huts have evolved into full-fledged inns and restaurants that cater to pleasure-seekers only willing to walk to the parking lot and back as well as the more athletically-inclined hikers.

The food provided in a rifugio ranges from simple pasta dishes to more elaborate though rustic meals – the common denominator in most of them being hearty hot dishes that stick to your ribs. Most people new to these hills are surprised at the caliber of cuisine you can get in these remote chalets, and the mind boggles at the logistics required to keep their food stores stocked. Expect to see a fair amount of game on the menu, from hare and boar to venison, and in ‘them, thar hills’, chances are you will never be far from plates of polenta, a mountain staple for centuries.

We have put together a list of our favorite mountain inns – some you can reach on foot directly from the Palazzo, others easily accessible by car and still others that require a bit of hiking to get to. Some of the Pertusinis, our owners, and members of our Palazzo team are passionate hillwalkers and happy to share their favorite treks and must-eat meals with our guests. We would also be delighted to arrange transportation to and from good start and end points for some of these hikes to avoid having to make a round trip. Just say the word…

Baita La Morena

This is probably the easiest of the bunch to get to – you can take the Palazzo’s complimentary bikes or drive your car a couple of miles down the road towards Nesso and walk about 10 minutes up the small path to this charming stone farmhouse. For guests with mobility issues, there is even a small monorail that will take you up the hill without breaking a sweat. The best way to get there and back, however, is to take the lakeside path to Crotto del Misto and then head up the hill to get on the Strada Regia hiking path. From there, you follow the path towards the south for about 45 minutes until you get to Baita La Morena. This is certainly the most charming route – and the hike has amazing views of the lake as well as some interesting geological and natural wonders along the way.

Owners Claudio and Nadia will give you the warmest of welcomes in their lovely home – and though you will feel a thousand miles from civilization, the hospitality is fit for a king! You can take a seat by the fire in the cozy dining room when the weather outside is frightening or linger on the covered terrace in fine weather, enjoying the views across the lake towards Argegno and the Intelvi valley. Claudio and Nadia keep bees and pigs at the farm, besides growing grapes and other produce – all of which are on the menu. Cured meat and cheeses are served with their own honey, chutneys and pickled veggies on rustic boards, the “polenta uncia” is made with copious amounts of cheese and butter as tradition dictates and the fruit tart made with their own preserves is positively bursting with flavor!

After your meal, you can return the way you came, or continue along the Strada Regia to Nesso and catch the public bus or call the Palazzo staff to arrange for collection.

Agriturismo Baita La Morena
Tel: +39 328 033 3335
Open all year round – call to reserve

Website

Baita Belvedere

Baita Belvedere is one of those rustic locales that is easy to reach by car – and when we say easy, we mean a car will get you there. How you fare on the switchbacks after the Bellagio hamlet of Visgnola and the one-lane track from the main road up to the Baita is more of a personal question! The trip takes about 30 minutes by car and is quite scenic, but if scenery is really what you are after, take a hike on one of two different paths. For the first route, drop the car by the church in Visgnola and follow the path through the woods and the meadows, before taking the cart track up to Baita Belvedere. The second route starts in the Bellagio hamlet of San Giovanni and takes you through Vergonese and along the Brogno stream to the Baita. Both routes are under an hour to walk and easy to navigate with good signs.

Baita Belvedere is a working farm run by four local brothers and the pastoral idyll is made more beautiful by the cattle grazing free on the green meadows. The little farm shop sells fresh fruit and preserves as well as milk, yogurt and cheese, but it is the Trattoria that takes your breath away. From its perch, which feels higher than the clouds, the views sweep across all three branches of Lake Como and the tempting aromas make your mouth water. Polenta is served with the local dried fish known as “missoltini” and wild boar ragù complements the homemade pappardelle, or sample amazing plates of cured meats and their own cheeses and the traditional miascia cake just like Mamma used to make.

If all of that hearty food and wine has you loath to walk back, see if you can catch the farm’s complimentary shuttle (or better yet – pre-arrange the shuttle just to be safe!).

Baita Belvedere
Tel: +39-3398240771
Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays

Website

Rifugio Rosalba

A more classic mountain refuge, Rifugio Rosalba is perched on a ridge between two stunning valleys at 1720 meters above sea level. The easiest approach is to drive via Lecco to Pian Dei Resinelli – a real hub for mountain enthusiasts and a safe place to leave your car. From the Rifugio Alippi, take the relatively easy path known as Sentiero della Foppe (No. 9) for about two hours, going through a beautiful beech forest, along some rocky outcrops and up a pretty steep hill (only for about 30 minutes!) until you finally see the pink façade of Rifugio Rosalba appear on the ridge.

The views are quite extraordinary from this razor-sharp ridge – with steep slopes leading down either side and a ripple of peaks and valleys as far as the eye can see. While you are there, it’s exciting to learn about the Rifugio’s history. Davide Valsecchi, one of the first alpinisti to hike the entire Segantini ridge in the early 1900s, saw personally the need for a refuge in the area for hikers like himself undertaking this arduous trek. He built the first wooden structure for the rifugio in the garden of his Milan villa, disassembled it and carried it piece by piece to the ridge. It was inaugurated as Rifugio Rosalba in 1906, named for Valsecchi’s young daughter. Fun fact: the original wooden structure was still used for the toilets when the current rifugio was built in 1955, but was ultimately dismantled in 1983.

The menu has mountain man written all over it – polenta taragna, a local polenta made from buckwheat flour mixed with cornmeal and “fortified” with cow’s milk cheese from the nearby valleys, hearty soups or pasta with meat sauce. Find a place to lean against the wall and catch some sun before you return the way you came – and don’t forget to capture Lake Como from above with your camera.

Rifugio Rosalba
Open every day from June 2 to the end of September
Tel: +39 0341 202383 or +39 3476954610
info@rifugiorosalba.com

Website

BONUS!!

We have already reported on two of our other favorite Rifugi in other posts – go back and find them for more ideas for a great day out:

Rifugio Menaggio – Hikes in and Around Bellagio • Rifugio Martina – Lake Como Hiking Map

For some, Lake Como is a chic destination for pretty people sipping sparkling wine on a vintage wooden boat anchored of a shore lined with luxury villas. For others, the Lake Como landscape is a smorgasbord of natural beauty just waiting to be discovered – from craggy windswept peaks to vast mountain top meadows, cool forest paths to gentle slopes carpeted in colorful wildflowers. What’s the best part of spending the day in the mountains high above Lake Como? The cool alpine breeze – absolutely. The panoramic views – most definitely, but running a very close third would have to be the opportunity to indulge in traditional mountain fare at a so-called “rifugio” or a “baita”.

Translated from the Italian, a “rifugio” is literally a refuge, and harks back to the days when they were actually a matter of life and death for traders and travelers taking the perilous trek across the mountains. These chalets, located in some cases in the most improbable and isolated of areas usually provide a basic level of accommodation – from dorm-style bunk beds to more hotel-like private double or family rooms – and simple meals to hikers and mountain bikers who prefer to stay above the fray for days on end. In the meantime, some of the more basic mountain huts have evolved into full-fledged inns and restaurants that cater to pleasure-seekers only willing to walk to the parking lot and back as well as the more athletically-inclined hikers.

The food provided in a rifugio ranges from simple pasta dishes to more elaborate though rustic meals – the common denominator in most of them being hearty hot dishes that stick to your ribs. Most people new to these hills are surprised at the caliber of cuisine you can get in these remote chalets, and the mind boggles at the logistics required to keep their food stores stocked. Expect to see a fair amount of game on the menu, from hare and boar to venison, and in ‘them, thar hills’, chances are you will never be far from plates of polenta, a mountain staple for centuries.

We have put together a list of our favorite mountain inns – some you can reach on foot directly from the Palazzo, others easily accessible by car and still others that require a bit of hiking to get to. Some of the Pertusinis, our owners, and members of our Palazzo team are passionate hillwalkers and happy to share their favorite treks and must-eat meals with our guests. We would also be delighted to arrange transportation to and from good start and end points for some of these hikes to avoid having to make a round trip. Just say the word…

Baita La Morena

This is probably the easiest of the bunch to get to – you can take the Palazzo’s complimentary bikes or drive your car a couple of miles down the road towards Nesso and walk about 10 minutes up the small path to this charming stone farmhouse. For guests with mobility issues, there is even a small monorail that will take you up the hill without breaking a sweat. The best way to get there and back, however, is to take the lakeside path to Crotto del Misto and then head up the hill to get on the Strada Regia hiking path. From there, you follow the path towards the south for about 45 minutes until you get to Baita La Morena. This is certainly the most charming route – and the hike has amazing views of the lake as well as some interesting geological and natural wonders along the way.

Owners Claudio and Nadia will give you the warmest of welcomes in their lovely home – and though you will feel a thousand miles from civilization, the hospitality is fit for a king! You can take a seat by the fire in the cozy dining room when the weather outside is frightening or linger on the covered terrace in fine weather, enjoying the views across the lake towards Argegno and the Intelvi valley. Claudio and Nadia keep bees and pigs at the farm, besides growing grapes and other produce – all of which are on the menu. Cured meat and cheeses are served with their own honey, chutneys and pickled veggies on rustic boards, the “polenta uncia” is made with copious amounts of cheese and butter as tradition dictates and the fruit tart made with their own preserves is positively bursting with flavor!

After your meal, you can return the way you came, or continue along the Strada Regia to Nesso and catch the public bus or call the Palazzo staff to arrange for collection.

Agriturismo Baita La Morena
Tel: +39 328 033 3335
Open all year round – call to reserve

Website

Baita Belvedere

Baita Belvedere is one of those rustic locales that is easy to reach by car – and when we say easy, we mean a car will get you there. How you fare on the switchbacks after the Bellagio hamlet of Visgnola and the one-lane track from the main road up to the Baita is more of a personal question! The trip takes about 30 minutes by car and is quite scenic, but if scenery is really what you are after, take a hike on one of two different paths. For the first route, drop the car by the church in Visgnola and follow the path through the woods and the meadows, before taking the cart track up to Baita Belvedere. The second route starts in the Bellagio hamlet of San Giovanni and takes you through Vergonese and along the Brogno stream to the Baita. Both routes are under an hour to walk and easy to navigate with good signs.

Baita Belvedere is a working farm run by four local brothers and the pastoral idyll is made more beautiful by the cattle grazing free on the green meadows. The little farm shop sells fresh fruit and preserves as well as milk, yogurt and cheese, but it is the Trattoria that takes your breath away. From its perch, which feels higher than the clouds, the views sweep across all three branches of Lake Como and the tempting aromas make your mouth water. Polenta is served with the local dried fish known as “missoltini” and wild boar ragù complements the homemade pappardelle, or sample amazing plates of cured meats and their own cheeses and the traditional miascia cake just like Mamma used to make.

If all of that hearty food and wine has you loath to walk back, see if you can catch the farm’s complimentary shuttle (or better yet – pre-arrange the shuttle just to be safe!).

Baita Belvedere
Tel: +39-3398240771
Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays

Website

Rifugio Rosalba

A more classic mountain refuge, Rifugio Rosalba is perched on a ridge between two stunning valleys at 1720 meters above sea level. The easiest approach is to drive via Lecco to Pian Dei Resinelli – a real hub for mountain enthusiasts and a safe place to leave your car. From the Rifugio Alippi, take the relatively easy path known as Sentiero della Foppe (No. 9) for about two hours, going through a beautiful beech forest, along some rocky outcrops and up a pretty steep hill (only for about 30 minutes!) until you finally see the pink façade of Rifugio Rosalba appear on the ridge.

The views are quite extraordinary from this razor-sharp ridge – with steep slopes leading down either side and a ripple of peaks and valleys as far as the eye can see. While you are there, it’s exciting to learn about the Rifugio’s history. Davide Valsecchi, one of the first alpinisti to hike the entire Segantini ridge in the early 1900s, saw personally the need for a refuge in the area for hikers like himself undertaking this arduous trek. He built the first wooden structure for the rifugio in the garden of his Milan villa, disassembled it and carried it piece by piece to the ridge. It was inaugurated as Rifugio Rosalba in 1906, named for Valsecchi’s young daughter. Fun fact: the original wooden structure was still used for the toilets when the current rifugio was built in 1955, but was ultimately dismantled in 1983.

The menu has mountain man written all over it – polenta taragna, a local polenta made from buckwheat flour mixed with cornmeal and “fortified” with cow’s milk cheese from the nearby valleys, hearty soups or pasta with meat sauce. Find a place to lean against the wall and catch some sun before you return the way you came – and don’t forget to capture Lake Como from above with your camera.

Rifugio Rosalba
Open every day from June 2 to the end of September
Tel: +39 0341 202383 or +39 3476954610
info@rifugiorosalba.com

Website

BONUS!!

We have already reported on two of our other favorite Rifugi in other posts – go back and find them for more ideas for a great day out:

Rifugio Menaggio – Hikes in and Around Bellagio • Rifugio Martina – Lake Como Hiking Map

2018-07-10T17:58:32+00:00July 2nd, 2018|Categories: Food|0 Comments

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