Alpine mountain passes are threaded with hairpin bends in Lombardy, where the great outdoors beckons year round. In the village of Corteno Golgi, the design-forward Albergo Miramonti hotel serves up great style (and plenty of cheese) to in-the-know travellers.
The Italians and Swiss have always known of Lombardy's charms, though they remain somewhat overlooked by travellers from further afield. The region is the definition of the great outdoors, where magnificent scenery goes from the tips of the Alps down to ice-cold lakes, traversed by treacherous mountain passes. Couple that with food that is Italian but meatier and more buttery, and Lombardy makes for an undeniably wonderful escape year round.
The region is perfect for a road trip which takes you from Italy and into Switzerland, on a route which circumnavigates tourists and will give you a taste of rural Italian altitudinal living as you navigate your way around hairpin bends, stopping off in quintessential communes as you go. But where to stay? One of the most design-forward hotels in the region, Albergo Miramonti is a stylish surprise in the unassuming commune of Corteno Golgi. Already winning prizes for its aesthetics, this chic bolthole is the definition of a hidden gem - rest assured that you won't bump into your neighbours from back home, or any other British tourists for that matter.
Swoon over a colour palette of dusky teal and eucalyptus green complemented by dark-wood floors, slate-grey bathrooms and mock mid-century furniture. Bronze, copper and gold light fittings bring city sophistication to the mountains, while slate bowl sinks are the stuff of Pinterest-board dreams.
What's for breakfast?
A continental breakfast buffet in the wood-panelled ground-floor dining room offers your usual cereals, pastries, yogurts and fruits, with added regional extras such as local crispy bacon, frankfurter-style sausages and nutty cheeses. Get your eggs to order - if you're off hiking, you'll need them.
How about lunch and dinner?
Miramonti's restaurant is the best in town, serving up rustic home-cooked fare in chalet-style surroundings. Start with a spread of locally cured meats sliced paper thin, accompanied by more cheeses. Next up, tuck into a hearty venison stew with plenty of mash - this stuff is made for the outdoor enthusiasts who flock here, and the portions are monstrously big. Wash down with a solid local red from the surrounding region before staggering upstairs to collapse into bed.
Is there a bar?
Yes, the ground-floor bar is a popular spot among locals, though we preferred the upstairs lounge for its stellar whisky collection and cigar room. Think: dark wood, large leather sofas and a roaring fire.
Things I should know
The small rooms really are tiny.
Within a short walk I can find…
While Cortena is an excellent launchpad for exploring the surrounding area, the town itself doesn't have much in the form of entertainment. Jump in the car for a scenic hairpin drive down one side of the valley and up another to go for lunch at Osteria Roncaiola, where you'll have killer views of valley, matched by generous plates of top-notch northern Italian cooking.