This page has been created to replace a previous partner site, “discovervarenna.com”. Previously very successful this site has now moved its content to discovercomo.com/varenna.
Varenna is the place to get away from it all, but also be in touch with the rest of the Lake. For the romantics, the historians or for those who love peace, tranquility and a history that goes back thousands of years this is the place.Varenna is an ancient fishing village with close to 1000 residents spread along a steep hillside overlooking Lake Como. The first evidence of Varenna existence dates back to 493. After the nearby island of Comancina was destroyed the population increased and flourished. The warring factions, as with much of Lombardy saw Varenna at odds with Como on many occasions and the rule of Varenna pass in typical Italian family tradition from the Visconti family to the Sondrati’s. Today Varenna is a lovely spot to chill out, although be aware that shops and even restaurants have been known to shut for lunch, so expect the better things in life to take longer.
Piazza’s, Walkways and Villa’s
What is there to do in Varenna? It would be quite easy to give you a days itinerary if you wish to just visit ans some of these are listed below. We would however recommend Varenna as a base for exploring due to its location on the so called “Golden Triangle”. Villa Monestero, which is few minutes walk from the central square (Albergo Royal Victoria) toward Fiumelatte.
The villa, as the name indicates, was a Cistercian convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. It was founded in 1208 by a group of faithful followers who had escaped from Comacina Island, after the Island was destroyed during the war between Milan and Como. For more comprehensive information see this link of discovervarenna.com Another villa, noty quite as grand but worth the visit is and of historical interest is Villa Cipressi in Via IV Novembre, which also meets the waters edge! These Villas and their grounds will occupy a few hours! We suggest you stroll through the cobbled streets and explore the narrow alleys.
You may even find out why people leave bottles of water outside their houses. There are a few restaurants along these streets, small, family run and with a good choice of Italian foods. For the more Pizza orientated there are two on the main square one attached to the main hotel. The waterfront in Varenna is relatively small with boats bobbing in a very small harbour area and the expected restaurant with tables and chairs covering this splendid view!You can walk to the ferry, along a wonderful promenade over the water, past a wonderful ice cream shop, the friendly ducks (check out the villages ornitholigical museum aswell) and lazy fish drifting in the sparkling water.
The Ferry area is naturally less tranquil, but has some magnificient villas overlooking the wharf and its own piazza. If the ferry isn’t there already, then sip a late Latte at the local cafe and soak up the refreshing lake air!
For the more athletic
For the more athletic then there are lots of walks up hills and down valleys. For example, Perledo, only a 3 minute drive is a good hike and results in magnificent views over the Lake. The altitude also proves a bonus on blisteringly hot days. If you want to enjoy this vista at breakfast and over an evening glass of wine then try staying at the magnificient Vista D’Oro Apartments, a brand new exclusive and beautiful development on the hillside overlooking Varenna.
The 7th Century Queen of Lombardy, Theodolinda lived the last years of her life in Castello Vezio, a castle, the ruins of which can be found at the top of the hill overlooking the town. This castle lent protection and thus prosperity to the locals, enhanced by the opening of a quarry for Black Marble. This marble was used for local building and was also used in the famous Duomo of Milan. You can walk up to this castle and see what remains, imagine the wealth and power and wonder at the views!In contrast one of Varenna’s more famed son’s, GB Pirelli, did not bring any wealth of fame home, no tyres, no factories and not even a calendar!