- Art & Culture
Lago di Como: more than Manzoni
Together with Renzo and Lucia in the streets of Lecco. Then on to discover the eastern bank of the Como Lake. Start with Varenna
All the traces of Manzoni’s novel “The Betrothed” are found here… the climb of the “bravi” (coarse soldiers who were hired by rural lordlings), the presumed house of Lucia, the convent of Friar Christopher (Fra’ Cristoforo) and the castle of the Unnamed.
A specialised museum is hosted at Villa Manzoni (in the Caleotto city
district), where the author spent his childhood, adolescence and early youth.
A precious gem
In Varenna, a small village with an international flair, visitors will find Villa
Monastero, a real ‘gem’ with superposed architectural styles spanning nine
centuries. Built originally as a female convent, it was later turned into a
sumptuous mansion, Villa Leliana, for more than three centuries. Today it hosts
a museum with a variety of antique pieces of furniture in all rooms, from the BilliardHall to the Music Hall. The complex also includes a conference centre, where the
Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi delivered his physics lectures, and is surrounded by
a botanic garden extending over almost two kilometres, or 1.24 mi. (up to
the Fiumelatte district) with a rich collection of rare, native and exotic tree species. Workshops, itineraries and games are also organised for children.
In the river gully and underground…
The silence of wildlife is broken by the roar of the Pioverna river, which forms
waterfalls, rapids and splashes flowing into the Orrido di Bellano gully, a natural canyon
created 15 million years ago. Footbridges anchored to one of the rock walls are used to walk through the gully, amidst luxuriant vegetation, which calls to mind a real jungle. Other routes for visitors to follow are the underground passages of the Piani Resinelli Mining Park, to discover ancient mines that operated from 1600 to the midtwentieth century. Visitors will also get an insight into old extraction methods and tools
by stepping into wide tunnels and corridors, most of which have lighting installations.
A little walk through history
The more-than-one-thousand-year-old Vezio Castle is a lakeside outpost dominating Varenna. Partially restored in the mid-twentieth century, today it is partially open to visits and hosts a diurnal and nocturnal raptor-training centre based on the rules of the ancient art of falconry. Another medieval monument, which dates back to a couple of centuries later, is the Corenno Plinio Castle, perched on a spur of rock through
which the characteristic alleys of the village were dug. Another fortress, the Forte di Fuentes, dating back to 1600, dominates Lake Como from the Colico hills. Initially destroyed by Napoleon, it was reused during World War I. Through its privileged position, it straddles between the Valtellina Valley on one side and the Chiavenna Valley on the other.
For visitors with a cultural taste
Culture-minded visitors will appreciate a masterpiece of Lombard Romanesque
architecture, the Piona Priory, or Piona Abbey, situated in Colico, on the Olgiasca peninsula. Particularly worthy of note is its cloister (1242), which exemplifies the shift from Romanesque to Gothic art. Its square layout evokes the symbolism of number four, i.e. the four elements of the universe, the four cardinal points, and the four
symbols of self-contempt, contempt of the world, love of one’s neighbour, and love of God. The bell tower of the San Nicolò Basilica, nicknamed “the Big Pencil”, is one of Lecco’s symbols. It is among the tallest bell towers in Italy (96 metres, or 315 ft.), and is equipped with nine bells intoning a concert in A-major and each bearing its own name. In the opening days, visitors can climb 380 steps to enjoy one of the most
charming views of the city.
Gone with the wind
When the weather is fine, windsurfing, wakeboarding, kiting or sailing are only some of the sports that can be practised in Lake Como, swept by two winds, the Breva blowing strongly from the south (in the afternoon) and the milder Tivano blowing
from the North (in the morning). This is a perfect combination for all sports enthusiasts and pros wishing to sail or surf the lake waters, When the Breva blows, expert surfers will find well-formed wave patterns. The upper lake area is particularly suited to the practice of sailing sports.
5 reasons for...
1. A multi-sensory itinerary in Piani d’Erna. Exploring nature through senses, walking barefoot in the water or on moss, watching animals, listening to the sound of birds and tasting natural products are only some of the leisure activities on offer while enjoying a breathtaking view of the lake from above.
2. Beaches. Slopes leading to the lake can be found everywhere, but the Riva Bianca beach of Lierna, with its fine white cobblestones, is definitively a must-go. Dog owners will be happy to know they can take their four-legged friends to the Bau Bau
Malpensata beach, in Olivedo di Varenna.
3. The Moto Guzzi Museum in Mandello del Lario. Motor-biking enthusiasts and anyone interested in this world myth will enjoy a collection of 150 exhibits, including mass-produced and sports motorbikes, test-prototypes and engines, all on
display at the historical Moto Guzzi factory.
4. Mount Barro. The Mount Barro Regional Nature Park offers plenty of flora, fauna and landscapes for nature lovers to enjoy. The park overlooks the Lecco branch of lake Como and lake Annone, and is covered by an extensive 44 km (27 mi.) network of trails reaching all major places of interest.
5. Forte Montecchio Nord in Colico. Completed in late 1914 to defend lake Como from
the bellicose attacks from Switzerland, this fortress is one of the most modern artillery installations of World War I. Its four cannons are still functioning efficiently