Mergozzo: the lake that built the Milan Cathedral
A small pearl, the little brother of the larger Lake Maggiore, Lake Mergozzo is one of the cleanest lakes in Italy, in fact, motor boats are forbidden, making it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.
I have to make a clarification, this small and limpid mirror of water is not really the brother of Lake Maggiore, but it was its westernmost strip. Over the centuries, the continuous floods of the rivers have created a natural barrier: the current plain of Fondotoce, thus dividing the two lakes.
To protect this corner of peace is the town of Mergozzo, a small village characterised by typical stone houses that almost seem to hug each other as they are so close, only divided by small streets that give life to some of the most amazing views.
These picturesque alleys lead to the centre of the square where the magistrates of the village used to sit in council.
Mergozzo is a small open-air museum, you can find religious buildings dating back to the Romanesque period, or even materials dating back to prehistory and the Bronze Age, all perfectly preserved in the city’s museum. In addition, the granites here are so famous as they were used for the construction of the Milan Cathedral and the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the walls in Rome.
The medieval paths (still perfectly preserved), lead to the village of Montorfano, on top of the small hill, (home of one of the best preserved Romanesque churches), where you can admire the stunning panorama of the lake of Mergozzo or the Borromeo Gulf and the entire natural reserve Fondotoce.
If we talk about Mergozzo, we must mention the “Fugascina“, a typical sweet and symbol of the culinary tradition. “At the old pastry baker – La Fugascina” you can taste this unique and greedy cake, as well as being able to taste the typical dishes of the area.
On the 4th of July, on the occasion of the feast of St. Elizabeth, families go to the oven to cook the homemade Fugascina. To be able to do so, each family is asked to donate an offer, which is then given to the Church of St. Elizabeth.
Also born here in Mergozzo, it’s the “Piccolo Lago”, a two Michelin-star restaurant by the chef Marco Sacco. With its stilt-like structure, it will seem to dine suspended on the lake, with the mountains all around.
An innovative cuisine, but dedicated to the territory that hosts it, the chef Marco Sacco succeeds in combining tradition and innovation, as stated by the motto at the entrance to his restaurant: “To take back the past, model it in the present, project it into the future.“
Mergozzo shows how traditions do not have time but they endure and live on over the years. An example is the cooking of Fugascina or the ageless alleys of this magical place.
The Lake Mergozzo is a small diamond in Alto Piemonte, worth visiting at least once in your life!
So, add this to your bucket list and we’ll see you there!
– Until next time, With Love