One thing you may know by now is that I will write about Italy at every given opportunity. In London, there is no shortage of Italian cuisine, but living in what I like to call the West London viera for the last few years has allowed me to immerse myself in the best of the cosy, local hangouts inspired by all things Italian. It’s really the closest I can get to Italy without moving there, so allow me to indulge whilst I share some of my favourite spots with you.
Start your sunny day in London in Little Venice, arguably West London’s most beautiful district, where its romantic waterways, long canal boats and idyllic green scenery fool you into thinking that you are not in fact in the centre of London. Whilst its namesake is the magical floating city of Venice, Little Venice actually bears very little resemblance to its eponym, and more closely favours the canals of Amsterdam. The houses on Blomfield Road and Maida Avenue resonate particularly with the dutch baroque style canal houses in Holland. Still, in the summer, this little corner of London comes alive, frequented by tourists and locals alike, ambling aimlessly along the canal, walking their dogs and stopping for a cocktail in any of the colourful floating bars.
The signature drink in Venice is the Aperol Spritz, a sweet yet bitter, citrusy alcoholic drink, easily spotted due to its bright orange hue. In the warmer months, tables are dotted with the cocktail, a sign that that summer has arrived. The best location in Little Venice for an Aperol Spritz with a view is Café Laville. The glass fronted restaurant takes a prime spot sitting over the canal, transforming into the ultimate alfresco dining spot in West London when the roof is pulled back and the glass fenestra are opened. Sit here with a drink in hand as you watch canal boats pass through the tunnel beneath you. If you fancy getting on the water, head to Paddington Basin and hire a Go Boat for a couple of hours.
What is a faux day in Italy without gelato? Just a ten-minute walk from Little Venice is my favourite deli, Prezzemolo & Vitale. Why? Because the authentic Italian delicatessen in West London sells my favourite gelato, Grom. Started in Turin in 2003, Grom have perfected their gelato - it may just be the best in the world. I first tasted it here, but recently visited the store in Venice, twice of course. Make your way down Westbourne Grove towards the colourful Portobello Road in Notting Hill, which despite being an Italian variety of mushroom, has nothing to do mushrooms at all. On Fridays and Saturdays, Portobello Road transforms into a vibrant street market, but on the other days of the week, the streets around Portobello Road are renowned for romantic cafés, brightly painted houses and craft and antique stores. Lancaster Road, St. Luke’s Mews, Colville Terrace and Elgin Crescent are some of the most photogenic streets in London. Our intricately embroidered Venezia Espadrille contrasts the pastel-coloured houses of Notting Hill, and is the ideal West London shoe.
By now you will have worked up a four course appetite - Italians don’t do things by halves. Eat at Saporitalia, a cosy, family-run Neapolitan restaurant with a wooden interior, resonant of an authentic, traditional and unassuming restaurant in Napoli. Every dish is delectable, but being a Neapolitan joint, the pizza is crispy, light and everything that is right. Order your antipasti, primi, secondi and dolce, washing them down with the Amalfi Dream, a cocktail of Limoncello, Prosecco, San Pellegrino Lemon, cranberry juice and tonic water. Sadly, there is no gondola or water taxi to get home. You are in London after all.