Before me was a shimmering lake lined by verdant mountains basking under a clear summer sky. But instead of being scorched by the burning sun, I was in an air-conditioned dining room of a two-Michelin-starred restaurant right out of my dreams.

Piccolo Lago (Italian for Little Lake) was a modern, fine-dining Italian restaurant in a standalone building that extended over the tiny Lake Mergozzo in northern Italy near the Swiss border. Owned by chef Marco Sacco and his family, it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but was just about 15 minutes’ drive from my hotel in Baveno, a small town on the banks of the adjoining, bigger Lake Maggiore.

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