I know you will find this hard to believe, but we slept away the afternoon. By the time I woke it was almost dark, the street lights were on, and the church bells were tolling seven o’clock. I went out for a stroll looking for a spot for dinner. Between the town center and the ferry dock I came across four restaurants, two of which were eliminated because they were pizzarias. I took my time wandering back to the room, checking out the nooks and crannies of Varenna. Here’s my take: This is an old town, I’ll have to look up the history later, but I can tell from the architecture it dates back to the Middle Ages. All the streets are cobbled and narrow. Streets,Ha! There are only two main streets for vehicles, everything else is pedestrian only. The pedestrian lanes seem to spoke off the main square and lead down to the water’s edge. Unusual cobbling here since the lanes slope steeply down to the lake so they must serve double duty as gutters during heavy rains. The stones are small and golf ball sized cemented in between horizontal stone terracing every ten meters or so. (I discovered later that the stone came from the bottom of the lake where there are billions of smooth round stones). The lanes are steep going down, steeper going up, and are tough on the soles of your feet. The main square holds the church, town hall, pharmacy, several restaurants, and shops. There is a small amount of parking on the square so it seems everyone just pulls in somewhere and makes a parking place. All in all, Varenna is a lovely little town but it’s not much for sightseeing, shopping, or museum hopping. This is a place to rest, relax, and slow down (evident in my taking a nap this afternoon).
I found Vecchia Varenna Ristorante located down at lake level and about halfway towards the ferry dock. It was a small restaurant with about eight tables. In the busy season I can imagine one would need to make a reservation in advance for dining, but tonight there were only two other couples. The region’s cuisine caters to the local freshwater catches from the lake so you can imagine there are lot of fish on the menu. We ordered a bottle of Barbara d’ Asti along with a pumpkin and pancetta laced bowl of risotto. The risotto was freshly prepared and wonderfully creamy and paired very well with the vino. For the second course, I ordered fresh white fish in a soup of tomatoes and herbs. Charlotte ordered the pork filet and seasonal vegetables. Both meals were great. My fish was exceptionally good with a strong tomato and herb base lightly flavoring the very tasty fish.
Desert, a hike up the hill, and bed. Varenna is a good place to relax, recover and enjoy the views.