In this third and final part of a trilogy of posts on Lake Como, we visit Villa Carlotta, Bellagio and Varenna. I’m just going to write a few words about each location, with a picture gallery including captions after each one.
On the western shore of the Ramo di Como where it reaches the Centro Lago (Central Lake) lies Tremezzo, a village boasting many fine villas, but none more so than Villa Carlotta.
Built at the end of the 17th century for marquis Giorgio Clerici II, a member of a powerful Milanese family, it was bought in 1801 by Gian Battista Sommariva, a well-known Italian politician and major art collector. The villa became a major stopping place on the Grand Tour, and fortunately for the modern-day traveller many of the classical sculptures that he acquired are still here: Not so fortunate though is the fact that I can’t show you any of them because photography is not permitted inside the villa.
All is not lost though because not only does the villa have a splendid interior, it also has some magnificent gardens with views to match. The villa was named after Carlotta Nassau who was given it as a wedding present for her marriage to Giorgio II, a keen botanist who turned the grounds into a garden lover’s paradise.
The timing of our visit to Villa Carlotta was less than perfect for visiting the gardens as most of the summer colour had gone over, but even so, if visiting the villa was good enough for those doing the Grand Tour, it was most definitely good enough for me.
From Villa Carlotta we could see Bellagio on the other side of the Ramo di Como, and it was easy enough to get across the lake, via Griante, to the village that sits at the point where the three arms of the lake converge.
Bellagio’s location has attracted human activity from medieval times, and so it shouldn’t come as any surprise to find out that it has become a magnet for today’s tourists. Coming at the end of September may have meant that we didn’t see Villa Carlotta’s gardens in all their glory, but at least we had plenty of space to explore the stepped cobbled streets of Bellagio in peace.
The streets these days are, as you would expect, lined with shops and restaurants, but if I’m being honest, I was more interested in taking in the fantastic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. At the tip (punta) where the three arms of the lake meet is a park which provides some of the best views of all, and not only that, there was also a restaurant where we spent an extended afternoon taking it all in over a bottle of wine and some lovely Italian food. Perfecto!
Varenna lies on the Lecce side of the Centro Lago, and I don’t know if it was just the circumstances at the time, but I liked Varenna even more than I did Bellagio. Apart from a couple of notable villas, the village doesn’t have any specific points of interest as such – but what it does have, or at least it did when we were here, was a wonderful feel to it. It’s a laid-back sort of place with fabulous views and not much in the way of commercialism: I absolutely loved it.
From the ferry terminal we walked along the Passeggiata degli Innamorati (Lovers Walk) to a little café next to the lake and had an ice-cream (as you do) before walking up to the Hotel du Lac where we wasted more time sipping drinks on the terrace overlooking the lake, and I couldn’t help but think of Van Morrisons’s words when he said “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be like this all the time”.
My knowledge of the area around Lake Como doesn’t run too deep, but I can see where Luisa Zambrotta, a blogging friend of mine, gets her inspiration from. Her website Words and Music and Stories is also an inspiration to me and I highly recommend that you check it out.
For those of you who prefer to see the pictures in a loop I have created a carousel below of those in landscape form (a mixture of landscape and portrait styles doesn’t work too well)
Music – Papillon by Secret Garden
POSTED – AUGUST 2021