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Best things to do in Varenna

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Italy  /  Lombardy  /  Lake Como  /  Varenna

Top 15 things to do in Varenna

1. Villa Monastero

Enjoy the nature, history, and sites of Villa Monastero. Walk through a botanical garden stretching almost 2 km (1.24 mi) along the lakefront from Varenna to Fiumelatte. See the magnolia trees, agave plants, citrus trees, and many rare tree species both native and exotic. There is a small coffee shop in the garden, so you can enjoy a drink while you walk the trails, admiring the statues and sculptures. Stop by the House Museum and walk through the 14 rooms furnished to give you the experience and decor of past styles. This is also home to a convention center where many workshops and cultural events are held.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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2. Villa Carlotta, Tremezzina

Visit Villa Carlotta, built in 1690, to see a decorated house and botanical garden filled with fine art. Admire views of Lake Como as you wander through the garden among camellias, century-old cedars, a rock garden, rhododendrons, and a bamboo garden. Discover 19th-century sculptures, including pieces by Canova and Thorvaldsen. On the villa's first floor, see Hayez's "The Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet" painting--one the collection's masterpieces. Princess Marianne of the Netherlands bought this villa for her daughter in the mid-18th century, and the second floor features furniture, pictures, and decorations from that period. The ancient greenhouse is now a cafe. Pick up an audio guides, or ask about guided tours.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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3. Villa del Balbianello, Tremezzina

The queen of Lake Como, Villa del Balbianello rests on the tip of a small wooded peninsula and is celebrated for its elaborate terraced gardens. The villa was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery. By the time wealthy American businessman Butler Ames purchased the property in the early 20th century, the villa had fallen into a state of neglect. Ames renovated the estate extensively, making vast improvements to the already impressive gardens. In 1974 the property was sold to Guido Monzino, the leader of the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest, who filled the villa with a rich collection of fine art and artifacts acquired on his expeditions. After paying the entry fee, you can walk freely through the gardens and enjoy the sweeping views of the lake. Guided tours of the interior are available at additional cost.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Sentiero del Viandante

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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5. Green Way dei Patriarchi

Suggested duration: 4 hours
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8. I Giardini di Villa Melzi, Bellagio

A strip of gardens that line the lakeshore on the Bellagio peninsula, I Giardini di Villa Melzi is a manicured landscape that was once the playground of Francesco Melzi d'Eril, duke of Lodi and the vice president of the Italian Republic in the early 19th century. The Neoclassical villa and chapel set off the colors of the garden. A greenhouse, called the orangery, is home to a collection of artifacts from the Napoleonic period and other rare archaeological finds. On the other side of the grounds, bamboo surrounds a chapel to create a place quiet meditation.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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9. La Passeggiata Degli Innamorati

Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. Il Tornio

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. Lago di Como, Lombardy

The third largest lake in Italy and one of the deepest in Europe, Lago di Como is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. The rich and powerful have been coming here since Roman times. Lake Como is well-known for its attractive villas. Visit the 17th-century Villa Carlotta to explore its scenic gardens, agriculture museum, and significant sculptures. Villa del Balbianello, the final home of explorer Guido Monzino, is famous for its elaborate, terraced gardens. Today, you'll find a museum devoted to his work. Go for a walk on one of the nature trails around the lake, or try out some watersports. Hop aboard the ferry service to easily access the small towns and villages.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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