Hotel in Varenna
Villa Monti Via Roma, 11, 23829 Varenna LC, Italy
Where to stay in Varenna? I cannot recommend Villa Monti enough! Opened only three years ago, it offers stunning views of Varenna with such excellent and helpful hospitality.
I booked directly through Villa Monti and received brilliant communication from Diego when putting down a deposit and then paying the rest before the stay with him sending me invoices. He provided a welcome booklet prior to our arrival and helped with the best way to arrive at the Villa from the airport.
When we arrived we were checked in by Cristian, who is your main contact during your stay – he showed us places to visit on the map, gave us his business card for any questions and selected a number of restaurants that we may wish to visit. He was our rock when we were there – he would answer all sorts of questions via phone or whats app (including where I could watch English football!) and reserved a number of restaurants for us. He definitely made our stay extra special!
The Villa itself is located on a hill overlooking the lake, just over a mile from the station, 5 minutes from the main square and 20 minutes from the ferry port. We loved the location for the amazing views from our outside terrace and the pool area – you just couldn’t get bored of them. We had the tulip apartment which is a studio apartment with kitchen facilities, a pull out sofa bed and a modern bathroom. The terrace was the best bit with a table and chairs and sun loungers and such beautiful! Although it was a studio, there was still plenty of space for our suitcases and belongings.
The pool area has a number of sun loungers and tables of chairs and for the majority of our stay it was just us there, which made it feel like our own private pool! Again, I cannot explain how amazing the views were.
There are a couple of local supermarkets near the square where we purchased some juice and fruit for breakfast. There were also some drinks in the room that you could purchase to save you walking up the hill with heavy bags.
I would absolutely recommend Villa Monti to anyone staying in Varenna and at around €150 an night it is certainly cheaper than some of the other hotels I looked at.
Things to Do in Varenna
We travelled from Milan Linante to Varenna in around 2.5 hours. From the airport, get a bus to Milano Central Station for €5 and then the train to Varenna, which run, on average every hour. You can check the train times here: https://www.alitalia.com/en_gb/. The train is only €6.70 (second class) or €10 (first class) one way. We chose first class just because it was not much more expensive but really there is not much difference so we travelled back second class! The journey is around 1 hour 10 minutes.
We chose to stay in Varenna in Lake Como as it was quieter and less touristy than some of the other nearby towns, such as Bellagio. We did not regret our decision – Varenna was full of character and charm and was absolutely stunning. Here is an idea of things to do in Varenna:
Walk around Varenna
Varenna is small enough (only around 1,000 people live in the centre!) to walk around in an hour or two. We started from Villa Monti up in the hills, past the main square and meandered our way through the cobbled streets down to the lake. We walked through the red arches (known by some as the Lovers Walk!) and to the ferry port. On the way back we cut up different streets and explored before making our way back to our villa.
We hiked to Castello Di Vezio from Villa Monti in around 20/25 minutes – just make sure you take some good footwear as they are not clear paths and you end up rambling a little! It was pretty much a one way path so no chance of getting lost.
The entrance to the castle was €4 and there is a café there selling food and drink. Look in advance for times of the falconry experience if you are interested. On the way into the castle in the grounds, there were a number of birds including an eagle and an owl (who looked like Hedwig from Harry Potter).
We went over the drawbridge to the castle and climbed the steps to the top where there were beautiful views over Lake Como – there is quite a small space at the top so you may have to wait. The castle itself is not that big so we walked the grounds and climbed up to another smaller turret. We then visited the underground part which, unsurprisingly, was a little dark and ultimate just full of rubble! Worth a trip, even just for the views!
Villa Monti was perfectly located for a short 15 minute walk to Flumelatte, a waterfall at the end of a straight but grassy path. It flows from a cavity in the Grigna into Lake Como and is approximate 250 metres in length. The name Fiumelatte, composed from fiume (Italian for “river”) and latte (“milk”), is due to the milky white colour of its water.
Worth seeing if your accommodation is that way or you could combine it with a trip to the Castle.
For only €5 you can visit the gardens at Villa Monstero located just metres from the main square. You could spend 1-2 hours here exploring the vast gardens with beautiful flowers and trees (with descriptions if you are an expert!) and there are some really beautiful views.
There are other gardens next door in Villa Capressi (€4 entrance) which are also meant to be lovely.
Ferry to Bellagio
You can get an all day ferry pass for only €15 which is really good value allowing you to hop on and off to see the different towns. If you do this, start early as the ferries do not run that frequently but you can get a timetable from the port.
We decided to just visit Bellagio, which is only a 15 minute trip. You could also visit Lenno, Mennagio, Lake Como and more!
Bellagio is busier and more touristy than Varenna and to be honest, I preferred the charm and character of Varenna. That said, Bellagio is still a lovely place and we wandered around for 3 hours weaving our way in between the different lanes, stopping off for a drink in the sun, all the way to the gardens and then had lunch by the front. A return ticket was just over €9.
We had a delicious meal outside on the terrace at Hotel Metropole Bellagio of pesto pasta and a tomato based pasta – very reasonably priced given the views!!
Rent a Boat
Before we arrived, we were told that you could have a 45 minute trip over Lake Como in a seaplane but sadly it was all booked up so we decided to rent a boat for an hour. We started off early so it was not too busy or too hot and sped off aiming for Villa Bilballeno, a beautiful place just 10 minutes from Varenna.
It was not too hard to manoeuvre the boat and it was so nice to have freedom to drive around Bellagio and Menaggio. The company was very professional and helpful and it was €80 for an hour with fuel included.
East London Girl Travels