Welcome to Varenna, situated on Lecco’s shore between Mandello and Bellano, this ancient village overlooks the lake in the point where the three branches meet and for this reason Varenna is linked well to the major resorts on the opposite shore.
Varenna is built on a promontory near the mouth of the river Esino and it could have been a settlement dating back to the Iron Age. In the Middle Ages Varenna was involved in the conflicts between Como and Milan, and in 1169, it became a refuge for the inhabitants of the Isola Comacina when they escaped from the destruction of the island by hand of the Comaschi. Every year Varenna remembers this episode during the feast of San Giovanni with thousands of small lights floating on the Lake.
Varenna is a charming town, made of narrow alleys that descend to the lake, ancient houses and porches along the lake. What once was a village that lived on fishing and on the extraction of the popular black marble, today has become an important tourist congressional resort.
Varenna represents a good starting point to visit the main areas of the Lario, but also it’s worth visiting Fiumelatte. Perledo, Vezio and Esino Lario; from these places you can set out on trips to the mountain Grigne.
Varenna – What to see
The church of San Giorgio, situated in heart of Varenna is a basilica with nave and two aisles, built in the 14th century. Inside there are 15th and 16th century paintings and some 17th and 18th century furnishings. Its façade is enriched by a big fresco portraying Saint Christopher. The most precious work of art it contains is the coloured stone Deposition from the Cross.
Villa Monastero, located on the lakefront, was originally a Cistercian abbey and then become a Patrician residence. Spectacular lakeside promenade leading to Fiumelatte, with alleys, terraces and gardens rich of Mediterranean and tropical essences. Today the villa is a museum and a congress centre.
Next to Villa Monastero is Villa Cipressi, a group of buildings built between 1500 and 1800, with hundred-year-old trees, gardens and terraces that go right down to the shore and the unique botanic pathway. Its name comes from the lovely cypresses that stand in the garden.
The village of Fiumelatte, on Varenna’s boarder is worth a visit. The village is named like this because of its white foam of its seasonal stream, which flows in the spring from a cave to the nearby lake.
The Valley of River Esino represents a good excursion route. The first village you encounter is Perledo, where you can visit the Vezio’s Castle, a well kept fortress with a curious exposition of birds of prey. Continuing on the course you arrive at Esino Lario, 900meteres high up that represents a good starting point for exploring the Grigne Mountains.
Varenna – Cuisine and Restaurants
Here listed are some suggested restaurants in Varenna and nearby:
Via XX Settembre 10 – 23829 Varenna
Tel. +39 0341 815349
Very small and a bit hidden in a small street in Varenna, this place gives the sensation of having found something real and a bit special.
Ristorante La Vista
Via 20 Settembre, 35 – Albergo Milano – Varenna
Tel. +39 0341830298
Surrounded by the Alps and by one of the most amazing views of Lake Como, the restaurant guests can dine outdoors and enjoy spectacular sunsets. The restaurant offers an à la carte menu with delicious regional and national dishes. The restaurant also offers vegetarian specialties and caters to special dietary requirements.
Closed on Tuesdays and Sundays, special opening for lunch and dinner on request.
Osteria Quatro Pass
Via XX Settembre 20 – Varenna
Tel. 0341 815091
The “Osteria Quatro Pass”, quiet and comfortable, is ideal for those who want to spend two pleasant romantic moments but also in the company of family and close friends. The menu changes according to the season. Fresh ingredients, cured meats, fresh pasta homemade, tasty fish from the lake and excellent meat dishes.
Crotto di Pino
23 Via Pino – Varenna
Tel. +39 338 3261526
Since 1975, with one of the most spectacular and romantic views of Lake Como, this restaurant offers specialties of the lake, deer and the delicious cheese “Drops of Milk”.
Hosteria del platano
Via Statale 29 – Varenna
Tel. +39 0341815215
This newly renovated historic restaurant, Hosteria del Platano prepares Larian dishes and from the Valtellina tradition. Adjacent to a small patio overlooking the lake.
Viale Progresso, 4 – Perledo
Tel. +39 0341 815225
Beautiful family conducted inn located in a typical house in stone built in 1785.
Closed on Wednesdays.
Piazza Martiri, 14 – Varenna
Tel. +39 0341 830115
Restaurant directly on the lakefront with a large terrace where you taste both typical Lombardy and Larian food.
Contrada Scoscesa, 14 – Varenna
Tel. +39 0341 830793
This restaurant has rich a rich culinary tradition and uses ingredients exclusively connected to the territory.
Varenna – How to get there
To get to Varenna you can use the Malpensa and Linate Milanese airports. Once you arrive in the centre of Milan (Milano Centrale), you should take a train direct to Bellano (line Milan-Lecco-Sondrio).
From Orio Al Serio airport it’s best to catch a train directly from Bergamo Station.
From Milan central station you get to Varenna in an hour and a half (www.trenitalia.com)
From Bergamo station, instead, you have to get to Lecco and there change train for Bellano, the journey is approx. one hour and a half.
From Milan leave from Viale Zara, follow the SS36 Lecco-Sondrio and then take the exit for Varenna.