There’s more to Lake Como than its namesake town or potential George Clooney sightings. The Lake itself is beautiful, with glistening blue water backdropped by the foothills of the Alps. The road that winds along the bank slices into and out of the mountains, disappearing before suddenly reemerging and founding cities along the way. Huge cyprus trees shoot up among marine pines, creating a green contrast to the many layers of blue. 

Villa Monastero, Varenna

Throughout, tiny towns cling to the banks, offering glimpses of pure beauty, provincial life with a paradisiacal backdrop, a stereotypical glimpse of Italy in a place you wouldn’t think to look. 

Sometimes, all it takes is a second glance. Though we’ve visited Varenna dozens of time – taking friends to see an obscure castle, enjoying date nights on the patio and enjoying melting gelato, racing to eat it before it falls to the cobblestones – it seems we hadn’t seen all of the ancient fishing town. 

Because right at the entrance of the town was another heaven-on-earth site we hadn’t known about:

Villa Monastero and its gorgeous gardens

Originally a 12th-century convent, the Villa was converted into a private residence in the 16th century, changing hands from one rich guy to another. The house faces the lake, and is probably best appreciated from that viewpoint. In fact, the first time I truly noticed it was diving into the cold water from our friend’s small fishing boat last summer. I had no idea that it was visitable, nor that it was so worth a visit, until we chose a sunny spring Saturday to relax in the Villa Monastero Gardens. 

Villa Monastero, Varenna

The Villa itself is interesting. Cool design, impressive black marble from Varenna, rich people things. But nothing could compare to the views!

Villa Monastero, Varenna

Villa Monastero, Varenna

The large lake, surrounding mountains and mild temperatures create a super-unique micro-climate that allows olive trees to grow in abundance and tropical and other exotic species to thrive, even in Northern Italy.



In fact the terraced garden has African and American palm trees, agave plants, citrus trees, small cacti and succulents, some of which are as tall as Marco!



The gardens don’t expand out from the Villa like a yard, instead they follow 2 km of prime lakefront real estate.


Villa Monastero, Varenna

The garden is dotted with sculptures, bas-reliefs, fountains and a small temple.



A lot of villas perch on the lakes of the bank, many of which are still privately owned.

Villa Monastero, Varenna


While we enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, baby girl decided it was a good time to take a six-hour nap



but who can blame her? Look how serene!


Villa Monastero, Varenna

We all got a chance to rest



and enjoy the beauty of Lake Como


More beauty from Lake Como:
The Best Town in The Italian Lake District
Tour of the Lake: Beautiful Bellagio
Non-touristy Lake Como (Or ok, less-touristy)

Written by ginamussio



Thanks Gina for sharing your wonderful experiences in such an attractive writing style!
I often “steal” ideas and tips! =)


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