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Locanda dell’Isola Comacina: Lunch in the Middle of Lake Como

Listen… You can hear the tranquility.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina

I am at one of the most beautiful restaurant locations in the world. Locanda dell’Isola Comacina is situated at the tip of Isola Comacina, a small island in the middle of Lake Como that holds a mysterious curse. The restaurant boasts a stellar clientèle of the rich and famous, with the likes of George Clooney, Richard Branson, Elton John, Brad Pitt and other celebrities.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Isola Comacina – an island in Lake Como

The island is reached by boat, and we arrive on Navigazione Laghi from Como, an hour and half boat ride so picturesque that it feels like mere minutes.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
View of the restaurant from the boat

The restaurant is perched on a hill and we ascend through a private walkway that leads directly to the patio.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Entrance to Locanda dell’Isola Comacina

We are greeted by Benvenuto Puricelli, the “Oste” or host of the Locanda and he shows us to the best table overlooking the languid waters of the lake.  For a few moments, I am led to believe that we are the only guests, and for fifteen minutes, we have the place to ourselves until a Dutch couple arrive followed by three Brits with young children.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Vino with a view

Lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina is part of our anniversary trip, a culinary celebration that had us dining at Alain Ducasse’s Le Jules Verne in Paris, Guy Martin’s Le Grand Véfour in Paris, Burj Al Arab in Dubai for afternoon tea and other notable establishments.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina

We toast to this celebratory lunch with a Cantina di Negrar Soave Classico, the wine that is set with the menu.

At the Locanda, the same set menu has been served since 1947 and it remains an exquisite example of simplicity. Six courses are offered which include a “finishing touch” with a finale that makes it a unique experience.

First Course: Antipasto All’isolana

Antipasto All’isolana begins with half a tomato topped with a slice of lemon, salt, extra virgin olive oil and oregano.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Tomato with a slice of lemon

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Vegetable dishes

This is followed by a selection of vegetables dressed in olive oil which vary according to the seasons.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Assorted antipasti dishes

There are beans, celery, carrots, baked onions, sweet peppers, courgettes and beetroot – cooked and drizzled in olive oil.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Sweet peppers

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Baked onions

Every dish is an example of simplicity and flavour, and as much as I enjoy the food, I cannot prise my eyes from the view ahead.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
First course with a view

The antipasto course continues with Proscuiotto Tipo Praga, ham that has been cooked in a steamer then lightly smoked in a wood oven and thin slices of Bresaola della Vatellina, air-dried beef that is aged in their cellar.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Proscuiotto Tipo Praga (L) and Bresaola della Vatellina (R)

Second Course: Trota Alla Contrabbandiera

The first of the hot dishes arrive with Trota alla Contrabbandiera, a fresh salmon trout cooked on a wood grill.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Salmon trout served at table

The trout is boned at the table and served dressed with salt, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and pepper.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Trota Alla Contrabbandiera

The fish is said to be sourced from the lake and it is a generous serving that is tender and flavoursome.

Third Course: Rottami di Pollo in Padella

Rottami di Pollo in Padella is described as chicken that is opened, “crushed”, fried in oil in an iron pot then finished in a wood oven.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Rottami di Pollo in Padella – Chicken

The skin is lovely and crisp, and the flesh is tender and moist. The dish is served with a green salad.

Fourth Course: Grana all’escavadora

The cheese course of Parmiggiano Reggiano is a delight in presentation.  Chunks are cut from the middle of the form and given into the hand of the diner “to provide a great emotional impact”.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Grana all’escavadora

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Cheese served in hand

Fifth Course: Arance Alla Castellana

Prepared at the diner’s table, sliced oranges are served with “fior di vaniglia” ice cream and covered with crema all’isolana or Crema di San Giovanni.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Arance Alla Castellana prepared at table

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Arance Alla Castellana with crema all’isolana

Sixth Course/Finishing Touch: Caffe All’uso delle Canaglie in Armi

The final course begins with a long standing tradition and the sounding of the bell. The host makes his entrance wearing a bobble hat and a tartan waistcoat. While burning brandy and sugar in a copper pot, he recounts the story of the island before he adds it to the coffee.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Benvenuto Puricelli telling the story of the island

Locanda dell'Isola Comacina
Exorcism of fire

In 1169, the Bishop Vidulf of Como put a curse on Isola Comacina, (Isola Comense or Cumana as it was known). “No longer shall bells ring, no stone shall be put on stone, nobody shall be host, under pain of unnatural death.” Ever since, inhabitants of the island have been trying to exorcise the curse.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Copper pots with sugar and brandy

Previous owners of the original restaurant were known to have met an ill fate. And in 1976, Benvenuto Purcelli bought the restaurant from Lino Nessi, who was told in 1949 by the English writer Francis Dale to undo the curse with fire rituals.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Sugar and brandy

Consequently, every meal ends with the burning of brandy in a pot before sugar and coffee are added and it is served to guests – an “exorcism of fire” or a blessing to ensure the safe return of guests home.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Coffee being served

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Brandy coffee with that amazing view

The interior of the Locanda is a reminder of the popularity of the restaurant. In the bar area with overhanging plates, photos of Benvenuto and the celebrities who have dined here grace the walls.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Bar area

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Overhanging plates

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Benvenuto, the “Oste” (the host)

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Photo wall of celebrities

An indoor dining room with a rustic decor reminiscent of a Swiss chalet offers an alternate ambience to terrace dining with spectacular views.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Interior of dining room

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Dining room mural

Lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina amidst the natural beauty of Lake Como is an unparallelled experience. The location alone leaves you in awe. The food in its simplicity and abundance ensures your satisfaction. The hospitality of the Oste embraces you like an old friend of the family while the history of the island and its curse is a mind trip back in time. And if you’re celebrating a special occasion, it is an experience that you will always hold close to your heart.

Getting There and Visitor Tips

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Navigazione boat

  • The set menu price per person including wine, water, cover charge and tax is 64 euros. No credit cards are accepted.
  • Bookings can be made through the restaurant’s website. Check for opening times during summer and winter.
  • Not all ferry services stop at Isola Comacina. Check for the timetable.
  • Allow yourself some time to explore the island on foot before lunch. The island is beautiful in its tranquility and you get a feel for its history. Check out the Photo Tour of Isola Comacina
  • Lunch is a leisurely affair not to be hurried. If returning to Como after lunch, you are most likely to miss the 14:21 boat. You can either wait for the next one at 16:39 the small café/bar near the landing dock, or catch a boat to Bellagio or other towns to explore the surrounds.

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina

Locanda dell’Isola Comacina
Isola Comacina
Lake Como, Italy

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.


  • Wow… Amazing views! The history of the island is fascinating. What a way to purge the curse!

  • What a brilliant setting for lunch – a piece of heaven on earth I’d say. One day, I’ll pack my laptop, DSLR and iPhone along with me and head there for lunch too. Can you sense my envious tone now? LOL

    • No… not at all 😉 Though I suggest you’d leave technology behind, apart from a camera and just absorb the experience 🙂

  • I love these forensic deconstructions of posh dinners! Shame I missed this place when I was there. 62 euros is not bad value for a menu like that in Italy. The bit of ceremony at the end sounds fun too.

    • The value for money is incredible when you consider you’re dining at the only island in Lake Como and the servings are very generous. As lovely as it would be to experience it in the height of summer, I’m glad the place wasn’t full when we went in October. Perfect weather, as you can see!

    • It will always remain as one of the places that are unforgettable. Our host made ensured everything was perfect, even remembering that we were there to celebrate our anniversary!

  • I love the simplicity of the meal and the placing of the cheese in hand. And with that view as a backdrop, what a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

  • Wow!! How utterly stunning and so very beautiful. 🙂 I love that you got to see and experience this. 🙂 I’ve been dreaming of visiting Lake Como since I watched A Month by the Lake or At the Lake – whatever it’s called. 🙂

    • Mr G describes Lake Como as the “most beautiful place on earth” and I can understand why (mine is Bora Bora). You’d love it, even in winter with snow capped mountains, and you get to dine indoors at the Locanda with that fabulous view around you!

  • What a beautiful location for lunch! Lake Como looks so gorgeous. I love the photos and story behind the final course. Very unique!

    • It’s difficult to remain focussed on the food when you have that view and serenity around you. The entire experience is unique indeed!

  • A beautiful post and story, both of your anniversary dinner and the one about the curse. I will make sure to visit this restaurant on my next trip!

    • Thanks Kathy! When I was writing this article, I thought it might be one of those things that really appeal to you if you make it to Como 🙂

  • I was taken to this exquisite restraunt by the manager of the Mclaren Racing team, Alistair Campbell. It was his favourite place and he had taken the entire team to celebrate their win in Monte Carlo. I recall it was a £100 per head and the entire place was filled. The food wonderful and the atmosphere brilliant it’s so unique and the story telling and flames fulfill the expectation of something out of a story book. No wonder George visits regularly.

  • I was in Lake Como to convalesce after surviving grade four breast cancer. Twenty two years later I’m here to say that the magic, not curse of comacina island truly worked.

  • We have been going to this restaurant since 1972. We have recommended it to many of our friends and everyone just loves it. Benvenuto is so nice and welcoming. The food combined with the view is spectacular. One must experience this at least once in their life. Definitely put it on your bucket list. We love it most for lunch because we enjoy the view and the tranquillity, and the sounds of the church bells ringing. We look forward to going again this year!