The best part about working in tourism on Lake Como is getting up early in the morning. Most people moan and groan when the alarm screams. Not us! After a good dose of espresso (or two), we’re ready to go. Whatever the destination; Varenna, Lecco, Cernobbio or Como, arriving to town it is always like seeing it for the first time.
The morning light creates a new scene every day. The early sun twinkles off the water, casting shadows that highlight things we hadn’t even noticed the day before. Joggers are getting their miles in, street artists are setting up their easels, shop owners are cleaning windows and we are on our way to meet our guests.
Today we are in Como to meet an international group of Swiss, Swedes and Americans. We are about to begin the Como Food Tour, a 2 ½ hour guided walking tour through the old town with several stops in selected specialty shops along the way.
While standing in Piazza Cavour, the imperial main square of Como, I look out to the pier thinking back on all the preparation it took to make this all come together.
In some ways, creating a food tour is like directing a theatrical production; we must be able to tell a story and bring our guests on a journey in a short time. We want to offer them not only information about the sights but provide them with a sensorial, emotional and memorable experience.
The town serves as our backdrop, and each neighborhood and local business sets a scene. The characters are key; a well prepared guide to act as narrator and our leading thespians; the local business owners and residents who share their stories and culture with passion and enthusiasm. However, the real star of the show is the guest. The guest should never feel like an outsider looking in. We aim to make our guests feel like part of the ensemble and to experience and learn about our Italian culture.
Although orchestrating a food tour is very similar to a stage play, the real secret lies in authenticity. On the guided tour, we not only bring our guests to see the historical landmarks, but we also bring them to the authentic bread bottega where Nonna buys her focaccia, a wine bar favored by the locals, and the milk and cheese and meat deli where Signor Guido and Christian the owner, argue about who the best soccer goalie is. Visiting a town with locals enriches the experience, making it genuine and tangible.
It takes a lot of trial, error, time and effort to get to know an establishment and create a rapport with them. When choosing a partner we look for quality service, professionalism and above all, warm hospitality. One of the worst things for a traveler to experience is rudeness or worse; indifference.
One of the Como partners we are privileged to work with is La Latteria San Fedele on Via Francesco Muralto, 37. Christian, the above mentioned soccer fan, has been running the business for over 20 years. His wife and son can also be found behind the counter. Originally from Gravedona located about 55 km north of Como, Christian grew up in the family deli business. “My father ran a similar shop. From a very young age, the importance of pleasing and serving the customer was part of my life. So when I came to Como, it seemed natural to open a business of my own.”
La Latteria San Fedele is more than just a cheese shop. They offer prime cold cut meats and a selection of quality products such as organic tomato sauces, extra virgin olive oil, locally cultivated rice, pasta, artisan jams, marmalades and more. You can order a sandwich to go, or do some grocery shopping before heading back home. Christian always says, “You can’t go wrong if you start with good quality raw ingredients.” The shop has also been featured in the prestigious Gambero Rosso culinary magazine and restaurant guide book.
Another reason we like working with La Latteria San Fedele is their work ethic. “I serve both residents and tourists. Everyone is treated the same.” Christian explains, “The tourist has to go home content. We must transform the ill reputation of shopkeepers and restaurateurs ripping tourists off. A separate tourist menu or pricelist should never exist.”
Partners like Christian and his family at La Latteria San Fedele are essential to our food tours and offer our guests an enriching, authentic experience.
Her’s a little fun for you, say this 10 times fast! “Several delectable stops in selected specialty shops”