Perledo / Varenna
Lake Como – Italy
With a change of three trains, quick running from platform to platform, fast handling of heavy suitcases and searching our seats on a full train, we entered the small village of Varenna at Varenna Esino train station.
Luckuly for us our host was there waiting for us to take us 3km up the mountain to Perledo. The road was steep and curvy and after a few minutes of driving we entered our apartment.
The balcony door was open and I held my breath looking at the view that looked as a desktop wallpaper. Endless view of mountains with a blue still lake at their base, little islands, small villages scattered around, church and castle towers poking from the thick green forest. Little houses hiding in the thick woods with Italian cypresses proudly stretched toward the clouds. This is the best view we ever had from the privacy of our home or from any AirBnB that we’ve ever stayed.
The most amazing view of Lake Como from Perledo
Having a view like that means you have a high vantage point, which in terms means there is a long climb up and down. Although there were some tourist buses (not that frequent) and some regular bus that we never saw coming (maybe because it’s summer) and of course a taxi, we decided to walk, or rather climb (considering the angle in certain places). Walking down meant you had to navigate your way through the many different paths leading you toward different directions, and sometimes confusing you as they don’t exist on and google maps.
To find the pedestrian paths leading to Varenna, just walk down the main road, and the paths just continue from the pedestrian crossing or are very close to it. They also had road signs telling you what is where and how far it is, so there was little change of getting lost.
After few miss-turns we found the quickest way up and down and our time was improved 18 minutes to coming down to Varenna and 40 minutes for going up to Perledo. It is really not that far (it’s 3 km total), but the path is very steep making this a great cardio exercise, especially during the hot hours, even though most of the paths are in shade.
Through the passages
We need some rest...
Cant get lost with these
Some paths lead through the forest
There are no restaurants at Perledo, there is only Bar Milano that is a center point for everything (all locals gather here, bus ticket are sold here, source of information etc.). A small supermarket and a pharmacy can be found across Bar Milano. Having learned from previous travels we did our shopping in Annecy before we got here (remember heavy suitcases?) but this store was good for essentials. It is even bigger than the ones in Varenna. The church in Perledo is also a beautiful landmark with a great a view point on the tiny square in front of it overlooking the lake. Sunday morning all the paths lead to the church as all the locals go to mass, and even the tower bells ring differently.
View from Bar Milano
There is a quick path to Castello di Vezio, little village and castle next to the entrance of the football playground in Perledo. We recommend this route as you get an amazing forest walk and you also cross a little river with a small waterfall.
Castello di Vezio
The castle is not that big but offers great views of the lake Como and Varenna. If you go before 4pm you will see the hawks exhibition. There are three more cages with night owls. There is a small restaurant with decent food and drinks at the entrance which also sells the tickets to enter the castle, which was a blessing considering the restaurant at the village doesn’t serve food before 7 o’clock (it was around 4pm when we got there).
The view is amazing
A great way to see the lake is to get a boat tour, and we recommend the private ones. The tour is basically a villa tour with so many of them around the lake, some private, some open to public. The most famous ones are the private villa of George Clooney and villa del Balbianello, a very beautiful villa where the scenes from Casino Royal (James Bond) and Star Wars were filmed. Around the villa there is a nice maintained park and the villa is open to public for a fee. You can reach it by ferry too.
St. George's Church - Varenna
Small but incredibly charming
A pleasure to get lost in
Peer and tourist area
The boat ride was quite pleasant, and we got to see some of the villages from the lake side, but for us the most beautiful one was Varenna. Although it’s not that big it’s nice to walk around trough the little streets, climbing the endless stairs, walking through the love passage by the lake or drink coffee at some of the terraces with a view.
Leaving Varenna behind
Villa Sola Cabiati
San Lorenzo Church
Varenna doesn’t have any nice beaches, although there are some places where you can enter the water. During the boat trip we saw some better beaches at the other villages.
The ferry runs frequently and there are different tickets divided by zones so you should check their web site and find what is suitable for you. The train stops at Lecco and Varenna, but car is probably the best way to move around. There was a car rental near the train station in Varenna.
There are mosquitoes during the summer so don’t forget your mosquito repellent.
We spend great few days here mostly enjoying the view from our balcony with a glass of wine and some home cooked snacks and meals. Breathing with full lungs trying to capture the moment. It was well spend money, worth every penny, although it was above our budget plans. Next stop: Arona, Lago di Maggiore. Ciao Bella!