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The marvels of Milan

To set the scene of what a design centre Milan is, we stayed at the utterly outrageous Nhow Milano: glass flower chandeliers, rubberised stone chairs and funky orange slippers in the bedroom all spelled out fun!

We started off with a visit to the town of San Pellegrino, about an hour-and-a-half north of Milan. The village has a real old-world Alpine feel – even the houses look more Heidi than Gehry! The massive factory of San Pellegrino water is located here, with fresh water cascading down the river already setting the scene for freshness. 

The water that is bottled comes directly from an underground mountain source. This 60s plant is the real deal, and it was fascinating to see such a massive factory at work. It is also here that the San Pellegrino cool drinks are bottled.

After the visit we went for lunch in town and were treated to course after course of local delights: polenta with cheese and truffles, homemade pasta with fresh porcini mushrooms, delicate beef fillet – all utterly divine.

After going back to town, we took part in a water and wine tasting at San Pellegrino headquarters (but more about that in our next installment).

That evening we had a marvellous farewell dinner at Cicala 02 (www.cicala02.it), a funky restaurant in the south of the city. Chef, Francesco Passalacqua, served us a marvellous tasting menu to end the trip off on a high note.

We tucked into home-smoked Ricciola (a type of fish, similar to tuna) with courgette preserve and corn consommé, a delicate chard cream with clams and beetroot and yummy risotto with courgette flowers, olives and Robiola di Roccaverano (local cheese).

The veal dish was spectacular, served on what I can best describe as a mustard panna cotta. The first dessert took everyone by surprise as it was a Belgian beer semifreddo with barley wafer and mascarpone – the beer made it quite bitter, so an unexpected dessert flavour.

Then for traditionalists, a crème caramel subtly flavoured with aniseed. With a local bitter digestif to round it all off, we truly had come full circle on the San Pellegrino trip – or as we’d come to call it the San Pellegrino Eating Cup!

Seven days of sights, smells, produce, marvellous food, wine – and water! – in Venice, Tuscany and Milan. A feast in all senses of the word.

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