Varenna is an important tourist resort located on a headland at the mouth of the river Esino, below the rough mount St. Defendente (1315 mt).
This mountain was famous for its beautiful white-black marbles, whose extraction used to employ most of the population.
This ancient village offers an enviable landscape, in fact in front of it depart the two branches of the lake and the sight ranges from the green headland of Bellagio to the most far away towns of Menaggio and Cadenabbia.
It is a picturesque village characterized by an almost uninterrupted succession of low and regular houses, sometimes with frescoes or coats of arms, leaning against each other and linked together through long and narrow alleys descending steep and straight down to the lake.
If you arrive in Varenna in the evening you cannot help being fascinated by the “Walk of Love” overlooking the lake.
Church of San Giorgio
The parish church was built in 1313 on the present main square. The last restoration works were made in the 50s but were not the only ones, in fact the religious building underwent several modifications even in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The main facade, flanked by the majesty of the bell tower dated 1653, develops on three portals from the 18th-century, highlighting in the middle one an old and faded painting from the 14th century with St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers.
The interior comprises three naves placed on cylindrical pillars and sharp arches and preserves several works of art such as an altarpiece depicting the Virgin, St. George and St. Peter by G.B. Brentani (1468), a carved Baroque confessional by Giovanni Albiolo from Bellagio (17th-18th century), a large wooden crucifix dating back to the 16th century, an altarpiece dated 1494 with four Saints and Maria, the marble altar of the Chapel of the Rosary and a “Deposition from the cross” carved in the stone.
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista and Oratory of the Madonna delle Grazie
Both buildings are located in the main square near the parish church.
The first one is of Romanesque origin, and according to an inscription from 1750 it was enlarged and consecrated in 1151.
During the restoration of the years 1964-1967 they found in the nave some frescoes probably made in the 14th century.
It preserves a funeral sepulcher of Romanesque origin and interesting frescoes in the apse, that should go back to the early 16th century.
The Oratory of the “Madonna delle Grazie” is a small building from the 17th century. Its interior in Baroque style preserves a magnificent wooden altar with gold decorations as well as polychrome wooden statues and paintings from the 17th century.
Villa Isimbardi or Villa Cipressi
The villa, of ancient origin, is located on the southern shore of the headland.
It belonged first to the Serponti and in the 19th century to the Isimbardi family. It was repeatedly restored until the second half of the 19th century, when Enrico Andreossi reconstructed and gave it its present Neoclassical form.
The name by which it is commonly known derives from the centuries-old cypress trees that characterize the terraced garden sloping down towards the lake.
For some years it has been a public property.
On the shores of Lake Como Villa Monastero represents nowadays one of the most interesting examples of residences in eclectic style where the interventions carried out between the late 19th and early 20th century have added functional and decorative elements without destroying the traces of the original appearance of the building, thereby obtaining a villa with a garden of a great scenic effect and symbolic value.
Villa Monastero arises from the continuous renovation of the ancient female Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria, whose first documentary mention dates back to 1208.