Heading back to Italy this week to finish off the posts about our Italian trip! I wrote about Varenna a few weeks back (see Streets Of Varenna here) but one short post doesn’t do this delightful place justice!
Varenna is a gorgeous old fishing village built into the side of a cliff on the eastern edge of Lake Como. It was, in our opinion, an absolute gem! Its location means that it isn’t as easy to access from Milan’s Malpensa airport as the lake’s western side – you have to drive right round the lake to get there or else take the car ferry across from Menaggio. However it is well linked by public transport being on the train line that runs from Tirano in the north down to Lecco. Maybe this attracts more independent tourists and locals rather than package tours. Whilst there were some pretty little artisan craft shops, Varenna didn’t have the same number of souvenir shops as Bellagio on the opposite promontory and this gave it a less “touristy” feel. Whatever the reason Varenna had a certain “je ne sais quoi” that we found irresistible.
We discovered a little cafe/bar/restaurant down by the lake front on the first day of our trip and liked it so much we went back for lunch later. Nilus Bar isn’t pretentious and the casual lakeside vibe adds to its charm. We got there just in time to get a good spot by the lake in the outdoor terrace area although the unseasonably chilly winds meant we still needed the cafe blinds down. Still, it was hardly anything to complain about (which didn’t stop the couple at the adjacent table who were nonplussed at this very slight disruption to their lakeside view despite the waitress’ explanations about plates potentially going flying and drinks being blown over). We sat back and enjoyed the gently lapping waters and the still excellent view!
Nilus serves the sort of simple food that the Italians seem to take for granted but seems so hard to get back home where pasta dishes are usually far heavier. Fresh local ingredients, simply cooked, superb flavours and all served in a stunning lakeside setting. The special of the day was penne cooked with saffron, prawn and zucchini – it was unbelievably light for a pasta dish and tasted divine! Desserts of delicious tiramisu, a chocolate and caramel gelato concoction, pinot grigio wines and coffees (and tea for me!) were the icing on the cake.
Fortunately there are plenty of opportunities for exercise to walk off any lunchtime excesses. We set off to explore more of Varenna’s hillside alleys, narrow cobbled streets and lakeside paths – more next week!
Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved