View to Varenna from Eremo Gaudio 4th Floor terrace

Italy is full of surprises.  Although I fully expected to find Lake Como quaint and beautiful, I could not have been prepared for how completely I would fall under its spell.  I am accustomed to mountains (Colorado) and lakes (Michigan) and even to a lesser extent a combination of the two (Grand Lake, CO and Jenny Lake, WY), but the combination of the Alps rising from the lake, frosted cake villas, hotels and houses in shades of lemon, peach and raspberry dotting the hills, and white ferries sluicing the glass-topped water was almost more than I could bear for its beauty.  You could almost convince yourself you were in Scotland were it not for the sherbet villages and hamlets scattered along the shores.

The kids and I ended up staying one night in Varenna(as opposed to doing a day trip as originally

Hotel funicular

planned) because we got a good deal on a hotel (Eremo Gaudio) at the last minute.  And what a hotel!  Sweeping lake and village views and so steep we had to ride a funicular up the mountain to reach our “room with a view.”  The funicular did it for the kids – they were in love.  We had a delicious dinner in a tiny alley in Varenna.  The kids behaved impeccably, so of course I had to treat them to lakeside gelato.  Today we took the ferry to Bellagio, the self-proclaimed “pearl” of Lake Como, and had lunch and a stroll.  Alas, no George Clooney sightings… Umbrella sales on the lakefront were brisk due to drizzly weather, but even rain cannot lessen the beauty of the place.  If anything, the clouds simply shroud the villages with an added layer of peacefulness.

View from Eremo Gaudio terrace

I can’t help but think (fantasize) about how spectacular this place would be for a writing retreat.  As I write these very words, I am sitting on the terrace with this view.*  As the kids are occupying themselves with sketching (Em) and the iPad (Jay), I am enjoying one of the few moments of pure tranquility I’ve had since the kids arrived two and a half weeks ago.  I can imagine spending hours sitting right here, the words flying off my fingertips with the writing broken only by long walks and hikes in the hills.  I would write my Magnum Opus.

Hmm… tempting thoughts.  Alas, now it is time to catch the train to Milan, which we will call home for the next five nights.  Ciao for now.

*written on the terrace, but published a day later, from Milan

Ferry approaching Bellagio

Categories: Italy, Travel, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,



  1. I just love Varenna. It is my favourite of the lakeside villages. I could quite happily live there forever.

  2. Sounds like you’ll be going back to write your memoirs. 😀

  3. Terrific place. Thanks for your post about Varenna.
    Wrote about it myself on my blog

    The Arts – JustMeMike

    • Thanks for your comment, and for sharing your own post about Varenna. I enjoyed seeing all of the images on your blog.

  4. Julie, thanks for the trip down memory lane. We also stayed in the hills, using a funicular to access Lake Como. What a beautiful place. I remember taking a cruise from Lake Como right up the lake, stopping at little villages. Not a place easy to forget.


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