Varenna: A Picturesque Village on Lake Como’s Shoreline

Varenna, with its colorful buildings, is a picturesque village that embodies the charm and tranquility of Italian lakeside living. This enchanting destination, less visited than its neighbor Bellagio but equally captivating, offers a blend of natural beauty, historical architecture, and serene ambiance, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the Lombardy region of Italy.

Varenna is a wonderful blend of natural splendor, historical richness, and laid-back elegance. Whether you’re wandering its ancient streets, exploring its villas and gardens, or simply relaxing by the lake, Varenna captures the heart of all who visit. It stands as a testament to the enduring allure of Lake Como, offering a quieter, yet equally beautiful, alternative to the region’s more bustling destinations. Staying in Varenna provides a serene retreat, ideal for those seeking to unwind in the beauty of Lake Como.

This guide takes you through the highlights of Varenna, revealing why this village is a jewel in Lake Como’s crown.

Exploring the beauty of Varenna

Stroll along the lakeside promenade: Varenna’s romantic lakeside promenade, known as “Passeggiata degli Innamorati” or “Lover’s Walk,” is a scenic pathway that offers stunning views of the lake and its surroundings. The walkway, clinging to the rocky shoreline, connects the village center to Villa Monastero, providing a peaceful route for a leisurely stroll.

Discover Villa Monastero: Villa Monastero is not just a highlight of Varenna but one of Lake Como’s treasures. Originally a monastery, the villa is now famous for its beautiful botanical garden stretching along the lake, featuring an array of exotic plants and offering breathtaking vistas. The house museum, open to the public, showcases elegant rooms furnished with antiques and artworks.

Visit the Church of San Giorgio: The Church of San Giorgio, dating back to the 14th century, stands as a testament to Varenna’s rich history. This beautiful church, with its notable bell tower, houses significant frescoes and artworks, providing insight into the village’s religious and cultural heritage.

Explore Castello di Vezio: Perched above Varenna, the Castello di Vezio offers panoramic views of Lake Como and the surrounding areas. The ancient castle, accessible by a short hike, hosts exhibitions and falconry displays, making it a fascinating excursion for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike.

Enjoy the charm of Varenna’s Old Town: Varenna’s old town is a maze of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with traditional houses, quaint shops, and inviting cafes. This part of the village exudes an atmosphere of bygone times, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local lifestyle. The small, picturesque harbor, with its array of boats, is a perfect spot for capturing the essence of Lake Como’s leisurely pace.

Tips for visiting Varenna

  • Getting there: Varenna is easily accessible by train from Milan, making it a convenient day trip or a longer stay, depending on your starting point and preferences. The village is also a key ferry hub on Lake Como, connecting it to other popular destinations around the lake.
  • Best time to visit: The best time to explore Varenna is from spring to autumn when the weather is pleasant, and the village and its gardens are at their most vibrant. Summer offers lively festivals, while spring and fall promise a quieter, more reflective experience.
  • Accomodations: Accommodations in Varenna range from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels, many of which boast stunning lakefront locations. Just as many other desirable destinations in the Lake Como region, Varenna is not exactly budget-friendly when it comes to accommodation, and it can also be necessary to book well in advance.
  • Food: Varenna’s restaurants and trattorias offer the chance to savor Lombard cuisine, highlighting dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. From lake fish specialties to risotto and pasta, dining in Varenna can be a delightful experience that combines exquisite flavors with enchanting lake views.