Varenna on Lake Como: a small treasure all to be discovered
Varenna: a delightful village
Varenna is a charming village in the province of Lecco with just over 700 inhabitants, in an area of about 12.6 km² on the Lecco branch of Lake Como and more precisely on its eastern shore. It stands on a rocky promontory in an imposing position looking right out onto the lake.
Varenna is a place to experience with the heart and soul, but also with the eyes to appreciate every little nuance and fascinating detail, the ever-changing colours of the waters of the lake, and the bright and lively fronts of the small houses which overlook the promontory.
The history of the village
Varenna is known to have been a fishing village in 769 but was a settlement long before then: it appears to date as far back as the prehistoric era. It was destroyed in 1126 by the Comaschi, when at the time it was an ally of the Municipalities of Milan. The same fate befell the nearby island of Comacina, which was also destroyed in 1169.
On this occasion Varenna showed great compassion, sheltering and saving the exiles from the destroyed island of Comacina; and the area where they stayed took the name of Insula Nova, a name that was then given to the entire village.
The Festa di San Giovanni is an annual traditionheld on the 24th of June marking the events of 1669, the exodus of the Comacini, and the welcome by the people of Varenna. Lake Como is all lit up by small and characteristic candles floating on its surface, in memory of all the unfortunate people who tried in vain to escape from the destruction of the island of Comacina and those who found a safe haven, right here in Varenna.
Lifestyle and places to see in Varenna
Varenna is a land rich in history, art, and culture. The village has a remarkable past and remains a popular destination for tourists and visitors who come to discover and enjoy the many sights and attractions.
The village is like a small labyrinth, with its warren of streets and alleys, colourful houses, historical churches and enchanting gardens.
The centre of the village is reached from the pier, where passenger boats come in, by crossing the famous Passeggiata degli Innamorati: a walkway suspended over the water from which you can admire a magnificent view taking in the lake and mountains.
Standing above Varenna, instead, is Vezio Castle, which has been part of the landscape for over a thousand years. It was built for the purpose of control and defense of Lake Como and the surrounding villages, at the behest of the Lombard queen Teodolinda. This handsome medieval castle is a cultural heritage site nestled among the trees above the village.
Anyone who loves art and nature should visit Villa Monastero, a convent built in the 12th century. It was later converted and changed hands several times over the years and now ranks among the properties of the Province of Lecco. There is a museum where you can see the original decorations and period furniture and learn much about history and culture. Of the many rooms, there is one where the physicist Enrico Fermi held his last lessons in 1954. But there is not only art at Villa Monastero. There are also extensive grounds and in particular a splendid botanical garden, with various exotic and rare botanical species. It is a real oasis of beauty, where you can enjoy a moment of peace.
Also worth a visit isVilla Cipressi. It was mainly built between 1400 and 1800 and is an example of a perfect fusion of ancient and modern. For years in the possession of noble families, it was then purchased by the people of Varenna to be put to public use. Those who love nature can visit the splendid botanical garden of Villa Cipressi, where you can find some unusual plants.
There is also the enchanting Source of Fiumelatte, a sort of living work of art and a true spectacle of nature. It ranks among the shortest streams in Italy and its milky-white waters flow into the lake to then return to the source. It is one of the natural jewels of Varenna.
Then there are the many attractive old churches, all well worth a visit. From the Church of San Giorgio to the Church of the Beata Vergine Annunciata, each one has its story to tell and is special in its own way.
There is, therefore, plenty to see and doin and around Varenna. You can go on walks and excursions all with pleasant surprises in-store, at the discovery of a unique area of pristine and seemingly eternal beauty.
Along the way, you can stop to buy some local products or a delicious snack which you can savour while still admiring the stunning landscape.
At Varenna on Lake Como, there is everything you could possibly want for a dream holiday in an enchanting place of timeless allure.
After a visit to Varenna, everywhere else will pale in comparison!