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Lake Como traditional food: the Missoltini

By 16 January 2020February 24th, 2020No Comments

There are many traditional food in the Lombardy region, but one in particular is very typical from Lake Como, and this is: the Missoltino (Missoltini is the plural form).


The Missoltino is a very traditional food from Lake Como area. It is prepared starting from fresh fishes direcly from the lake: the agoni. Agoni are medium-small fishes aboundant in Lake Como and Missoltini were born as a way to preserve them for a long time.

Here is how this Lake Como traditional food is prepared:

lake como traditional food

Lake Como traditional food: Missoltini with polenta, photo by Quicomo


Scaled and eviscerated, the fish are placed in salt for two to three days. Once the salt has been absorbed, they are carefully washed and hung to dry in the sun for ten days, until the fisherman will notice a reddish color of the meat, a sign that the fat is at the right stage and the fish can face a long period of conservation. The fishes are then crushed and placed in special metal containers, the “tolle” (originally wooden barrels called “missolte”, hence the name “missoltino”).

The very first evidence of the Missoltini is in the Epistulae from Pliny the Younger, dated back in the II Century A.D.!

Finally they are placed in alternate layers interspersed with bay leaves. Once the canopy is filled, the fish is slowly pressed. Thus the fat of the fish surfaces at the top and guarantees a perfect layer of oil to isolate the agons from the outside air and to allow a correct conservation. After a few weeks, the Missoltini are ready for consumption but they are kept even for a few months in this way.


They are traditionally served grilled with polenta and are the only dish with fishes that can be eaten with red wine, but be carefult! They are delicious but quite salty.


Discover more about Lake Como Traditions or about the typical Food of the Area!