It’s nice to stay somewhere that’s real. Varenna is real.
We chose this place more or less by accident. We had a few days to kill between ending our cruise in Venice and catching a plane in Zurich, and had heard the Italian lakes district is worth seeing. All the reviews pointed to Bellagio – set on a lake, quaint narrow pathways climbing between old houses. But, Bellagio doesn’t have a train station. Enter Varenna. This little town of about eight hundred people has a station, and has a regular ferry service to Bellagio. We could base ourselves in Varenna, and then catch the ferry somewhere else.
Well, that was the plan. What we didn’t count on was falling for the charms of our accidental home. This place is amazing. Yes, we have tired legs from climbing up and down the narrow cobbled walkways that connect the houses to the lake, and yes, we’ll have to find a better way to get our heavy cases back to the railway station, but we’ve fallen for the place just the same. I think the key is the unassuming way the town just gets on with being, while people like us come and go. The little piazza below our window is the only square in the town so it’s not only the place where people meet, but also a favourite spot for kids to run and do the things kids do.
We’ve even grown attached to the church with the bell we’ve named Big Benino. Ok, the bell chimes twenty four times each day, some of these seemingly random, but we discover the church was built in the thirteen hundreds, nearly as old as the unassuming little grey church nearby that just happens to be two centuries older than its larger neighbour. That sort of sums up Varenna. Other places on Lake Como shout out “hey – George Clooney lives here” or “This spot was used in a James Bond movie” but Varenna just sits quietly and is.