It started years ago, more than twenty for sure, my obsession with the idea of spending quality time alone on Lake Maggiore. It was the first place I set foot on Italian soil and it was love at first sight. Cliché? Maybe, so?
We were in Switzerland, me and my then boyfriend, now husband. He was having a great time, me, not so much. I was being polite, outwardly enthusiastic about my first attempt at ski-ing, inwardly desperate to escape the humiliation of being the most incapable skier of all time.
At breakfast one morning, as I was mentally preparing for yet another day of pain and humiliation on the slopes, Leo suggested a day trip over the Simplon Pass to Italy. YES! I blurted. I felt like a prisoner in Siberia who’d just been pardoned.
I wolfed my bircher muesli, put on normal clothes and we set off for Lago Maggiore, two hours away and a different world. The open water, the smiling people, warm sun, gelato- I could have cried.
Ever since that first visit in the mid 1990’s I’ve harboured a fantasy of hiring a little place and spending time there. On my own. But, me being me, I always had a reason not to do it, mostly revolving around a common theme ‘that’s what other people do,’ ‘better people,’ ‘people who work harder, achieve more,’ that kind of stuff. And I’m sure I’d have carried on that way if it hadn’t been for starting to write my first novel, oh, and Donald Trump.
When he got into office, I thought ‘That’s it, end of the world, it’s official. He’s going to get us all blown up.’ I don’t consider myself dramatic of nature, but that man brought it out in me. It also made me realize that one day, yes, it will all be over, and if I wanted to spend time at the lake I better get on and do it, and what better place to give myself time and space to write my novel.
Once I’d made the decision it was easy, I found the perfect retreat, perfect location, perfect owners, perfect, perfect, perfect. I had a perfect month last year and got lots done on my book. And so, of course to do it again this year was a no-brainer.
When I went I had lots of plans to work on recipes too, learn lots of Peimonte classics, but I didn’t. You see, the ingredients are just so good, you don’t need to do anything other than go to the market, buy vegetables, salads, fruit, cheese, meat and bread and you are set – oh, and I can’t do without my white anchovies