PICTURESQUE VARENNA

Varenna has been the most important village on Como’s Eastern shore since the Middle Ages. It is wedged on a promontory under the mountains. Its 10th century Oratorio di San Giovanni Church is one of the oldest surviving churches on the Lake. The larger Romanesque San Giorgio (1313) is marked by a lofty campanile and an exterior fresco. The oldest lakeside Villa is Villa Monastero which was built on the site of a 13th century Convent. The gardens are famed for their citrus trees. To see this beautiful garden on a day of blue skies and sunshine was a true gift. A curious natural wonder is the River Flumelatte (river of milk) Italy’s shortest river (820 ft.) before blasting down in creamy foam into the lake. Not even Leonardo da Vinci, who delved deep into the cavern from which it flows, could discover its source, or why it abruptly begins to flow in the last days of March and just as abruptly stops at the end of October. It was a great joy today to meet my Swiss friend Erika who has come from Zurich to spend the week with MM and me before we return with her to Zurich on Saturday – we enjoyed Varenna together and met MM in Menaggio which is on the Western shore before all returning to Bellagio to share a meal together. The town of Menaggio lies at the mouth of the Sanagra River. It is the leading commercial centre in the upper lake region. We walked along the lakeside promenade taking in the lake view and the arcaded houses and large Villas. Yesterday clocks went back one hour in Italy. This marks the end of the tourist season and many Hotels have closed their shutters and locked their doors until next March. Some shops have also closed and the Ferry schedules have changed meaning less frequent lake crossings and fewer tourists. Even the street trees are being pruned leading into winter.

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