If I were a seasoned mountaineer like Guido Monzino with many Everest expeditions, no other place could be more peaceful as the historic Balbianello Villa overlooking the Como Lake.  Here Mr. Monzino planned his future explorations while admiring his keepsakes from the past.  As a noted entrepreneur, he turned his home into a personal museum with strange statues from the North Pole and his sled. Since Mr. Monzino had no heir, he left his villa to FAI (the Italian Environmental Fund).  It has become one of the most famous attractions in the area.


Balbianello villa


Balbianello towers

Como lake

Blueberries porcini orzotto

A wonderful experience for me was walking in the shadow of the rare trees in the magnificent garden, wandering in the astonishing rooms overlooking the lake, admiring the sumptuously laid tables creating a real situation as the owner wanted.

Balbianello Museum

Como Lake

There are many villas and small charming towns around the Como Lake.   One evening at a lovely restaurant, I asked for their special dish.  I was told that they cooked wild blueberries with porcini (rare Italian mushrooms) in a dish called “Orzotto”.  I couldn’t have asked for more!  Those wild blueberries are smaller than the commercial ones; they seem like big black pepper grains. Returning home, I decided to make Orzotto, using commercial blueberries. The result was excellent!  Now it has become one of my favorite dishes that I cook quite often because blueberries are a healthy food and they bring back wonderful memories of my trip to the Como Lake.




Barley                                               350 g

Blueberries                                      100 g

Porcini                                              two

Onion                                                 1 medium size

White wine                                       1/2 glass

Parsley                                             2 branches

Olive oil                                           4 tablespoons

Salt and pepper

Wash and clean the porcini as well as the blueberries. Fry the onion in the olive oil a few minutes and then add orzo and stir for a few additional minutes.  Add the wine and stir until evaporated.  Add two cups of boiling salted water and cook the mixture following the cooking time for the orzo.  Continue mixing and add water if necessary until the orzo is almost cooked.  Ten minutes before this, add the porcini and blueberries. When ready to serve, add two tablespoons of olive oil, pepper and sliced parsley.  Have a great meal!