Varenna and Menaggio

Written by Jen on April 19, 2014
partlycloudy48° F

We woke to the pitter-patter of cold rain and a sky blanketed by clouds. We prayed for a respite at some point in the day, as it was our only full on the lake.

The view from our apartment

Jack braved the elements to hunt down breakfast, while the boys and I spent a lazy morning admiring the view of the lake and mountains, which was suprisingly more clear than day before, despite the precipitation. During Jack’s wet trek around Varenna he came across a few cafes proffering wifi, and given the indoor-inclined nature of the weather, we packed up the electronic devices after breakfast with the intent of “camping out” at one of these places for lunch and some rainy day entertainment.

We decided on Varenna Caffè, a tiny little establishment in a 700 year old stone-walled building, an almost literal hole in the wall. Six little two-top tables and a dozen more outside on the lakefront. We laid claim to two of the tables and set up shop…only to have the wifi password not work. The waitress shrugged and walked away. Oh well, I guess we’ll just enjoy a nice, quiet lunch in this quaint and rustic restaurant.

Varenna Caffè

As we dined the rain cleared and we could actually see a few pockets of blue sky! Ferries were out and about making their rounds to all the little villages nestled along the coastline, which looked like a fun way to see some more of the area. We found a “bigglieti” kiosk (ticket booth… we learned that one quickly) and snagged tickets for the next ride to Menaggio, directly across the lake.

Cruising across Lake Como to Menaggio Menaggio

Our experience on Lake Como consisted of literally only two of the many lovely looking villages, but it’s incredible how different each of them felt! Menaggio had a more level waterfront and then extended further up a gently (relative term) sloping hill. There were also a few large piazzas that we could unleash the boys upon, and gosh did they ever appreciate it after our gelato break!

Real Italian gelato! Evan wearing gelato Liam stealing mommy's gelato The boys playing superheros. They're probably both Iron Man. Liam playing with a dog in the piazza

Menaggio also sported a wide cobblestone promenade interspersed with fountains enveloped in palm trees and landscaped foliage, like little oases. There was even an occasional gazebo draped heavily with wispy purple flowers. It’s so weirdly-cool to me to stand under palm trees and look up at snow-capped mountains rising just beyond.

Spring in full bloom Menaggio's Promenade Us, for once!

As Evan was studying the fountain, he posed the question “He doesn’t like the water?” To which we replied “Who doesn’t like the water?” A short pause… “That guy, he’s spitting the water”. He was curious why the gargoyle head on the fountain was “spitting” water. Oh to think like a child! I thought about it from his perspective and it baffled me as well! Why do we make so many fountains of people and animals spitting out water? It’s kind of gross, isn’t it?

Fountain along Menaggio's promenade

We tried out one of those tourist telescopes along the water in order to get a good view of Villa Gaete, which is the place right at the end of Casino Royale, when Bond takes out Mr. White. Believe it or not, we were actually able to capture a decent picture through it. Who knew?

Villa Gaete, from Casino Royale and numerous other movies

Back in Varenna we had dinner at Quattro Pass, which was recommended by our property manager, Roxy. It did not disappoint! The boys shared spaghetti with tomato sauce, at which point we realized we should have given Evan some more noodle management training (we usually have penne when we do pasta) before our travels. It was quite the sight to behold. Frankly, it was so ridiculous we didn’t even feel out of place in a nice restaurant, we just laughed along with him.

Evan slurping spaghetti

We finished off the meal with my favorite dessert of all time — tiramisu. Oh, sweet heavens to have authentic Italian tiramisu! And the presentation was so adorable…in a mason jar with a wafer straw (that Evan quickly tried to sip before we dove in!).

Tiramisu. My FAVORITE!

Oh Lake Como, we shall return and give you a proper length visit someday…hopefully in the not-too-distant future…

Lake Como at night