During quarantine, I made a list of places I’d like to visit once we were allowed to travel. At the top of my list is a place that’s only an hour’s drive from Milan. It’s the kind of place that is so beautiful, so scenic, that I’m mesmerized by it every time I visit.
Varenna sits on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It’s a tiny town with a population of roughly 800 people. It’s one of the most famous villages on the lake. There are so many quaint, small towns around the lake but Varenna stands out from the rest. It’s location, architecture, and amazing views are stunning. It’s an idyllic place to spend an afternoon. Last week we did just that, my husband and I spent an afternoon enjoying the beauty of this little gem.
I wondered what Varenna would be like Post-Covid. It’s June which is normally one of the busiest months for tourism in Italy. As I suspected, the town was very, very quiet. There were few people walking the steep, stony streets and as we made our way through town, I heard only Italian and German.
Ristorante mon amour – MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN VARENNA
We started off with lunch at our favorite restaurant in Varenna. There are many restaurants to choose from in town and most have a lake view. However, I find most restaurants that have scenic views rely on that to lure customers. Their menus are usually what I call “tourist generic” and the food is just ok. Ristorante Mon Amour doesn’t have a lake view but it makes up for it with its amazing food and excellent service. It is tucked in a narrow pedestrian street and run by a lovely husband and wife team who are transplants from Naples. The spaghetti with clams is the best I’ve ever had in Italy and the Torta Caprese is absolutely scrumptious. Their prices are reasonable and the food is fantastic.
GARDENS OF VILLA CIPRESSI
We then headed to the gardens of Villa Cipressi. The spectacular villa was once a private residence and now is a four-star hotel. Varenna has two beautiful gardens, Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. Both are well worth your time. Hotel Villa Cipressi allows visitors to explore the garden for a small fee.
I really can’t put into words just how beautiful this garden is. The pictures really don’t do it justice. It’s a terraced, manicured garden with plants and flowers from all over the world. The garden in and of itself is a sight to see, but the view from the terraces is to die for. We sat on the bench and just stared at a view that can only be described as a dream, a postcard, a perfect slice of Italy. To read more about Varenna, ready my previous blog post here.
As of this Sunday, December 13, Lombardy goes from being an orange zone to a yellow zone. A few weeks ago Italy was on a the verge of a new national lockdown.
Risotto alla Zucca is a popular dish in Northern Italy. “Zucca” is a generic word in Italian for all sorts of pumpkin and squash varieties. In this recipe I use a butternut squash, but you can certainly use pumpkin as well.
Times are tense for the residents of Italy as what was considered unthinkable just a few weeks ago, namely a second national lockdown, may soon come to pass.