Every once in a while the stars align and you find that little gem. The place that you’ll tell your friends ‘you discovered’ when it becomes popular (oh hi Croatia) and where you radiate an air of smugness and greet passers by with a sly nod of the head and knowing look as if you’re all part of some glorious conspiracy.
We stumbled across Lago di Candia in Northern Italy after a particularly bad spell. The car required a dash back home for a final fix; we’d seen just about one working hotel too many in France; and patience was wearing thin with the omnipresent glow of Booking.com trying to find interesting places on a budget in the middle of August… so we were suspicious when a place came up at an Italian Lake for a steal.
We try not to pay too much attention to Trip Advisor as some of the reviews are written by people who get offended if their toilet roll hasn’t been hand crafted into the shape of a swan, but the scathing reviews of a small inaccessible lake knee deep in tourists didn't do much to inspire.
So with a sense of trepidation, we arrived after the most spectacular drive through the French Alps and the famous Mont Blanc Tunnel, to meet a friend on the shoreline.
Wincing with anticipation to see what hideous cesspit we’d dragged her to, we rounded the corner to La Caletta del Canavese to be faced with one of the best views… a cold class of white and frosty beer waiting for us.
But wait… what’s that just beyond the glasses of goodness? A dirty old swamp? A village pond? Nope - just one of the most beautiful lake vistas complete with shimmering water, lush green hills and the occasional house dotted in the background
I mean - just look at it…
With a weekend to fill we looked to the most important element… lunch. Nothing cements a good weekend away like a long lazy lunch, and a local recommendation for Al Cantun del Lago came up with the goods.
Set back from the shore with views over the water, we were lucky to get a table on Sunday lunchtime as locals began to fill the tables around us - always a comforting sign when everyone around you is speaking the same language of the country you’re in.
Glass in hand we waited for our antipasti - the most beautiful cured salmon for me served with a prosecco sorbet.
Followed by the most perfect plate of pillow soft gnocchi simply served with tomato, basil and delicious melting buffalo mozzarella.
Not normally a pudding person, I was dragged screaming and kicking into the third course with baked peach with a rich chocolate 'stone' and vanilla gelato.
After a long lunch served with the local, ever so slightly sparkling white wine, we needed a bit of a leg stretch and took a walk down to the shore from Al Cantun.
We hopped back in the car (feeling lazy) and round the corner to La Caletta for a quick spin in a boat
While the romantics in us thought a row across the lake would be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, the inner kids won out and we hired a pedalo instead. There is nothing better than time on the water... especially if you don't have to do anything and can sit back while the staff take the helm!
We picked Bed & Braja as our base in nearby Vische - just 5 mins from the Lake by car. With little idea of what to expect, we were greeted by the warm and welcoming Elena to her fabulous little spot int he middle of the village. The two bright, airy and spacious apartments are kept immaculately clean and feel brand new.
Set in a shared courtyard with her brother's pizza restaurant (yep... pizza on tap) these beautiful apartments are comfortable, modern and an absolute steal at around €50 per night. Huge comfy beds, wonderful showers and breakfast left for us everyday makes this a place we'd happily recommend to anyone looking for a rustic alternative in Northern Italy.
Approx half an hour from Turin airport (and just over an hour from Malpensa), Lago di Candia and surrounding areas (so much more than this one lake) are a great alternative to some of the bigger, more crowded areas and offer genuine warmth, hospitality and incredible value.
A great place for cycling, walking... or just relaxing by a beautiful lake with some fantastic Italian food.
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