After last week’s brief preview here is an account of our wanderings round Varenna – one of our favourite towns amongst many delightful places around Lake Como. Originally a fishing village, it dates from the 11th century and still retains the character of its humble beginnings despite its evident charms as a tourist attraction.
On first arrival at the ferry quay, the easiest course is just to follow the crowds along the lake front until you start coming across the little cafes and bars nestling by the lake. We decided to come back to those later and explore the little town first. The rabbit warren of narrow streets and old buildings leaves you wondering which way to go?!
The steep little streets lead tantalisingly uphill and we were never too sure where we’d come out. However we learnt that it was a case of all steps leading to Rome – going up you inevitably end up in the bustling main piazza and going down you reach the lake sooner or later!
The pretty cobbled town square is dominated by the Parish Church of San Giorgio. Consecrated in 1313 and restored in 1957, the facade contains a large fresco portraying St Christopher. Inside there are more artworks though we had to leave exploring the interior for another visit. Just down a side street from the piazza is an excellent tourist office – they helped us out with a query about our ferry tickets far more efficiently and patiently than the staff at the ferry terminals!
An alternative route is to turn left as you leave the ferry quay, which takes you away from the tourist traffic and wander up the hillside towards the little railway station tucked into the cliff. I’m never any good with directions but Monsieur was convinced that by following the street upwards and right we would end up in the main piazza again – he was right and we had lovely views down to Lake Como below as we walked along!
There are many delightful walking trails in the pre alpine hills surrounding Varenna but we decided to go back down to the lake and enjoy a leisurely lunch instead!
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