You can spend your day exploring the conjunction of Swiss and Italian cultures on a lake that bridges the two countries. We can arrange for you to cruise across Lake Lugano to a grotto restaurant, where you’ll get a masterclass in making Italian risotto from a local chef.
Begin your journey in Lugano, where a boat will take you across the water to the shadier, more mountainous side of the lake. As you approach, you’ll see the docks, rock walls and grottoes that are typical of the region.
Once you arrive, you’ll be given a welcome drink and nibbles before your cooking adventure begins. Then, your host will teach you how to prepare risotto from fresh, local ingredients.
Afterward, you’ll eat what you’ve made and take your time returning to Lugano at your own pace. If you wish, take a slower boat on your return and see the small fishing villages along the shore.
Meet your guide at the boat terminal to begin your day learning to make risotto, a classic northern Italian dish. You’ll start with a cruise from Lugano across the lake, heading to the steep hillsides of the opposite bank. Given the less sunny weather on the mountainous side of Lake Lugano, you’ll want to bring an extra layer, like a light jacket.
Your host will meet you at a traditional grotto, a local term that designates a restaurant with a simple menu of solely local ingredients. In the Italian-speaking Ticino region, caves were carved out of the rock to be used as storage for foods and wine before refrigeration became widely available. These storage spaces have been converted into small, family-run eateries that dot the lake and boast terraces at the water’s edge.
Upon arrival, you’ll be met with a welcome drink and a selection of appetizers, then introduced to your cooking station. Your host will lead you through the steps of making a true Italian risotto, using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Spend the afternoon stirring, tasting and sipping with a view of the lake and the hillside villages.
Before you go, you can make your dietary preferences clear, so your dish is suited to your diet. Once your culinary creation is complete, you can enjoy it along with side dishes and local wine provided by the restaurant.
Dine at your leisure, since you determine when to return to Lugano on your own. Your guide will advise you as to the boat timetables. You can take a boat directly back to the main town or take a more scenic route via several small fishing villages to extend the experience a little further.
Photos of Cruise and Cook — risotto workshop
Experience it for yourself
You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.
SwitzerlandView this tour
Italian Lakes and SwitzerlandView this tour