Around Lake Como, there are a few towns that are best-known, and Varenna is one of them. It’s just across the lake from Bellagio and Menaggio, and those three towns tend to make up the bulk of where tourists see Lake Como.
Rightly so! Varenna is about a 40-minute train ride from Lecco (depending on whether or not you catch the express train – if you get the express train it’s a bit faster). The train ride itself is amazing – the tunnels they’ve built through the mountains are incredible, and there are many train byways where the train goes through half-open tunnels with incredible views of the lake.
Varenna is a quiet town set into the Lake (though to be honest I’m not sure anything on Lake Como could be considered a “loud town” – it’s certainly not a party place!). The architecture is gorgeous, and I wanted to go see the gardens at Villa Monastero.
Lake Como has been a retreat for wealthy people for a few centuries now, and around the lake are villas with gardens that are well-preserved. It’s so incredible to see the villas, but the gardens are much more impressive!
It was funny going to Villa Monastero, because if I’m being honest – the Villa is pretty, but not that impressive. It’s certainly no castle!
But the gardens! The gardens extend for a couple of kilometers next to the lake, and they are amazing!
There are statues with all sorts of different garden areas to explore. There’s even a cafe where you can stop for a cup of coffee or snack!
When I was there, I passed a lot of people who seemed to be doing a painting class – I’ve heard that a popular excursion around Lake Como is taking a painting class, and doing a painting over the course of the afternoon. As a nosy person, I will say that looking over people’s shoulders revealed quite a range of talents… Some were just incredible, and others, well, those people are endowed with my level of painting skills. But it did seem like a fun and peaceful way of spending the afternoon!
I was happy to have my camera and book! I was at the point where my back was still bothering me a bit, so my endurance for standing and walking wasn’t quite where it usually is. So I would enjoy a few gardens, then find a bench and read for a bit, and then go on to other areas of the gardens.
It was a wonderful way to while away a peaceful afternoon!