Romantic Italy: Lake Como (Part 1)

View at Villa Monastero

View at Villa Monastero

After Venice, we visited Lake Como in Lombardy, most enchanting place I’ve ever been to thus far. Hugging the earth like an inverted Y, Lake Como is the third largest lakes of Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggoire, and also one of the deepest in Europe with its average depth at 505 ft (154m) and maximum depth at an incredible 1358 ft (414 m), at which it is more than 660 ft (200m) below sea level. Lake Como’s unquestionable natural beauty combined with the delightful towns and romantic villas studded on its sometimes steep and rugged shoreline turn it into the storybook destination that it is.

At southwestern end of Lake Como is the largest town named after the lake, Como, at southeastern end is town Lecco and on its northern end is town Colico. Overlooking the center piece of Lake Como where its three branches converge are the towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Verenna. Perched on the promontory in the center of the lake, Bellagio is the largest and most touristy town of the three. I decided to stay in Varenna, a smaller but quieter town where the trains stop.

The train ride from Venice to Varenna is roughly a 5 hour trip, 2 and half hour from Venice to Milan’s central train station, changing train in Milano, then another hour’s journey from Milano to Varenna. I purchased train tickets on line from RailEurope.com in advance and received our tickets before we left US. The ticket cost about $50 per person per trip (Venice to Varenna or vice versus). Our hotel was Hotel Eremo Gaudio, erected on the steep hillside of Varenna, facing broadest point of the lake. Immersed in enticing environ, relishing spring bloom and delicious food, our 3 days/nights in Lake Como was a wonderful time.

On route to Varenna from Venice

Church and tower on the train route

Church and tower on the train route


The train ride from Venice to Milan was about 2 and half hours.

Bridge over a river

Bridge over a river

The train running through this town

The train running through this town

Varenna

Varenna sit on the eastern center shoreline of Lake Como, overlooking the juncture of three branches of Lake Como, and is accessible by train from Milan and others. Small and peaceful with a quaint old town center, harbor, picturesque views and easy access to the other towns on Lake Como by ferry boats, Varenna makes a perfect base location while in Lake Como.

Varenna’s train station

Varenna’s train station

Houses on the hillside across from Varenna station

Houses on the hillside across from Varenna station

Varenna seen from Hotel Eremo Gaudio

Varenna seen from Hotel Eremo Gaudio

Varenna’s town center

Varenna’s town center

Church and its tower in the center of the town

Church and its tower in the center of the town

A private resident close to hotel

A private resident close to hotel

Walk by Varenna’s harbor – on route to the town’s ferry station

Walk by Varenna’s harbor – on route to the town’s ferry station

This complex/mansion veiled by lush green is on the lake on route to ferry station from town center

This complex/mansion veiled by lush green is on the lake on route to ferry station from town center

Narrow paths through the town

Narrow paths through the town

Lack Como seen on a ferry from Varenna to Bellagio

Lack Como seen on a ferry from Varenna to Bellagio

Hotel Eremo Gaudio

A distinctive feature of Hotel Eremo Gaudio is its location. Built in two parts on two far apart levels, way up on the steep hillside, it is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the town center but the view it offers makes it well worthwhile.

Terrace with view, outside the lobby and breakfast room, offering light meal and snack for lunch

Terrace with view, outside the lobby and breakfast room, offering light meal and snack for lunch

View from balcony of our room which is on the higher tier of the hotel

View from balcony of our room which is on the higher tier of the hotel

Varenna’s town center from Hotel Eremo Gaudio

Varenna’s town center from Hotel Eremo Gaudio

Hotel Eremo Gaudio’s building on upper level

Hotel Eremo Gaudio’s building on upper level

View from the hotel’s lower level

View from the hotel’s lower level

It takes a long funicular to get up to our room

It takes a long funicular to get up to our room

Yummy pork knuckle dish

Yummy pork knuckle dish


Hotel Eremo Gaudio has a dining room with terrace on the higher level. We had dinner there the first night and everything was delicious, the pork knuckle dish savory and the house wine luscious.

Villa Monastero

Villa Monastero is laid out on a narrow swath of land on lakeside of Varenna. An international cultural and scientific center in the present day, it was once the site of a Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria that dates back to early 13th century by existent documentation. Since it was sold to the Mornico family in mid 16th century by the church, it has gone through a great deal of restoration by a succession of owners and its house turned into a mixed styled building that it is today. The house was closed on the day of our visit but garden was open and abounded with enchanting views. The official site of the Villa Monastero is: http://www.villamonastero.eu/

Villa Monastero’s front door

Villa Monastero’s front door

View at Villa Monastero

View at Villa Monastero

We enjoyed Villa Monastero

We enjoyed Villa Monastero

Long path through the garden

Long path through the garden

Romanesque columns and statues lend the villa a romantic vibe

Romanesque columns and statues lend the villa a romantic vibe

An amazing old tree

An amazing old tree

Menaggio

Menaggio

Menaggio


We did not visit Menaggio, the town right across the lake from Varenna, but based on what we saw from the boats, it looks like a town of substantial size.

Menaggio’s bell tower-It looks like every town has a bell tower

Menaggio’s bell tower-It looks like every town has a bell tower

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