August 2: A Day in Varenna Touring a Lovely Villa

The sweet aroma of honeysuckle fills the air. Cicadas chirp joyfully above wisteria lined lakeside paths dotted with cypress and magnolia trees. Spotted fish swim lazily in the sunlit water. The Villa Monastero in Varenna is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

After a buffet breakfast this morning overlooking the water, we headed out across the lake to Varenna on the Milano, an old fashioned ferry boat. Upon our arrival in Varenna, we strolled along the passerella, an elegant lakeside promenade. Once at the harbor front, we paused at the Nilus Bar, an eatery with tables just above the water, to enjoy a fresh asparagus filled crepe. Looking for a refuge from the hot sun, it was at this point that we discovered the Villa Monastero. The area around the villa was originally a Cistercian convent built at the end of the 12th century. Over time, the property became privately owned and has been owned by several different families. Today the villa is owned by the National Research Council and hosts scientific conferences. How lucky the participants must be to spend their time in such a beautiful setting. As we walked along the well maintained gravel paths, we admired a variety of citrus trees bulging with fruit. It is a quiet and peaceful place where the silence is broken by an occasional passing motor boat. We stopped again and again to smell the roses, flowering bushes, lavender, and decorative pots of sage and rosemary.

Walking back into town we noticed steep lanes running down to the harbor called contrade. We took one down and stopped at Gelateria del Giazzera for a refreshing dish of homemade lemon and strawberry gelati. According to travel writer Rick Steves, this is the only place in Varenna that makes gelati on a day-to-day basis.

The boat back to Bellagio was a car ferry. The vantage point from the top is the perfect place to admire the views. It is so clear today we can see many tiny villages nestled in the hills and even the jagged summits of several peaks of the Swiss Alps.

Right now as I write this, I am a wine bar, Internet Point Bellagio. Here I am enjoying a refreshing glass of Orvieto Classico along with a healthy portion of salami, cheese, and prosciutto. What a fine to accompaniment to travel writing before we head out to a festival in the town square.

Old Magnolia tree
Branches bending toward the water's edge
As if looking for a better view


coachsparky said…
Brendan Bear--

It sounds like you are having a very relaxing and tasty trip so far! Your colorful descriptions make me feel as if I am right there with you. Enjoy your time in Italy. In case you haven't seen it, I wrote a comment on your first blog entry (from the States) with some suggestions for Paris.

Have fun!
Brendan Bear said…
Thanks so much, Coach Sparky, for following my blog and for all the great tips!
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