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    Varenna, Lierna and the Path of the Wayfarer

    Who I am
    Aina Prat Blasi
    @ainapratblasi
    SOURCES CONSULTED:

    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    Temperamentally I tend to see the positive aspects of everything and it is clear that the forced travel blockade due to Covid has pushed me to explore more "my" region (or rather, the one where I have lived for 18 years). I always wanted to do it, but the urge to take a plane was getting stronger and I was postponing .. very wrong! Lombardy is one of the largest regions in Italy and has a naturalistic, artistic and historical heritage that would require years of exploration. 



    I had to start somewhere and, as my first post lock-down trip to Lombardy, I chose the 2nd section of the Path of the Wayfarer, the one that goes from Lierna to Verenna on Lake Lecco, to combine the sporting / naturalistic part with the more cultural one. I anticipate already that I liked it very much !!! I did the day trip, but if you have time it is definitely worth staying in the area even 2-3 days because there are many things to do and see in the surrounding area or, why not, to relax on the lake. Below you will find all the details of my trip. 

    The Path of the Wayfarer

    Il Path of the Wayfarer it's a hiking trail of Lake Lecco which takes up a series of paths that connected, already in Roman times, the towns of the eastern shore of the lake from Lecco to Colico. Probably they were part of a wider connection system that went from Milan to the Alpine passes, but they were also used by pilgrims and along the way there were ancient churches and monasteries to welcome travelers. The current route goes from Abbadia Lariana (it starts at the church of San Martino) to the sanctuary of the Madonna di Val Pozzo in Piantedo. It is about 45 km long and is usually divided into 4 stages (Abbadia-Lierna, Lieran-Varenna, Varenna-Dervio, Dervio-Piantedo). I have traveled the 2nd section, the one from Lierna to Varenna, considered by many to be the most panoramic. The signs are orange and very clear, so you will have no difficulty following the path. 



    How to reach the starting point from Milan and where to park

    lierna it is located about 70 km from Milan and 16 from Lecco and is easily reachable both by car and by train in about 1 hour. The most convenient thing to do is to park near the Lierna station (which is already a little higher) and then walk to the starting point of one of the 2 variants. At the end of the path, in Varenna, you will have to take the train to go back and it will be convenient for you to find your car at the station. If you go there on a Sunday check before there are trains!

    The lower variant 

    There are 2 variants of the stretch from Lierna to Varenna, one that “runs” closer to the lake (the Bass variant) and one higher (the High variant). Not being too trained, to start I did the low one (which is still quite tiring). The path starts from Via Regoledo (Giussana locality). From here you begin to climb into the woods until you reach the maximum height of the path which is 800 meters above sea level. The trail crosses the Vacchera Valley before descending again towards the lake. Towards the end, it then runs along a stretch of the freeway, until arriving at sources of Fiumelatte (which can be seen by taking a small detour) before reaching Varenna. Technically it is not a difficult path but it is nice long and requires some training. Bring water and food because you will not encounter neither fountains nor villages along the path (e sprinkle yourself with anti-tick spray if you go there in the spring-summer when the grass is high). Along the way you will find picnic tables in 2 places. 



    • Length: 10,7 Km
    • Difference: 580 mt
    • Time: 4h30' 
    • Difficulty: average 

    The tall variant

    The upper variant starts from the locality Genico and from here you begin to climb rapidly into the woods until you reach the panoramic point where there is the cross of Brentalone. From here you will have a beautiful view of the lake and you will also find picnic tables. After a plateau it then resumes climbing towards the Plan of San Pietro, peak of the climb (altitude 1080 meters), and a wonderful view will open up before your eyes. You will then reach the locality of Ortanella (where you can refresh yourself if you want) before descending to the Castle of Vezio where the route joins the Variante Bassa. From here a steep mule track leads to Varenna.

    • Length: 10,7 Km
    • Difference: 800 mt
    • Time: 4h30' 
    • Difficulty: medium / high

    Varenna

    What to see in Varenna

    Varenna is considered one of the most beautiful villages on the lake of Lecco and has a beautiful and romantic lakefront. In addition to strolling through the alleys of the village (and along the lakeside in fact), if you have time, do not miss to visit these places:

    • Vezio Castle: the point where the Sentiero del Viandante ends in Perledo, just above Varenna. It is a suggestive medieval fortress overlooking the lake, immersed in a centuries-old olive grove. Inside you can visit the tower and the undergrounds that date back to the First World War. 
    • Walk of Lovers: the part of the lakefront that connects the center of Varenna to the ferry landing. 
    • Villa Monastero: Its botanical garden is beautiful! The garden extends for 2 km along the lake and, thanks to the particularly mild climate typical of the area, botanical rarities from all over the world coexist, which are increased year by year. Also worth seeing is the House Museum. 
    • Villa Cipressi: a magnificent complex of buildings and gardens, created and built between 1400 and 1800. It is currently owned by the Municipality and is used as a hotel / restaurant and conference center. What you visit are the magnificent gardens, an architectural masterpiece characterized by stairways and terraces sloping down to the lake. 
    • Source of Fiumelatte: you pass by taking the Lower Variant of the path. From the village there is a small path of 1 km to reach the point where the Fiumelatte falls, white like milk, into the lake. Its peculiarity is its intermittence which runs from 25 March to 7 October. 

    Where to eat in Varenna

    • Crott del Pepot: typical restaurant located along the slope to the Vezio Castle. Perfect for eating polenta and other typical dishes. 
    • Osteria Four Pass: very nice restaurant in the historic center. More refined cuisine but really good. 
    • The corkscrew: Very intimate place, with few seats but very nice. Sophisticated menu and attentive and professional service. Ideal for couples and celebrating special moments.

    Where sleeping in Varenna 

    Villa Varenna: nice B&B in a late 800th century villa in the center of Varenna, 200 meters from the Varenna-Esino train station. It also has a garden with barbecue and a furnished sun terrace.



    lierna

    What to see in Lierna

    Lierna is a small town, however, formed by many tiny hamlets that have ancient origins (apparently even Celtic). The most beautiful hamlet is undoubtedly that of Castello overlooking the lake (with the castle of Lierna in fact). Once this hamlet was an island, and still today there are alleys and courtyards within the walls of the medieval village, as if it were a village in itself. Next to the village there is the most beautiful beach in Lierna (and one of the most beautiful on Lake Lecco), that is White shore, a beach enclosed in a very pretty bay. The beach is half of white pebbles and half of lawn, it is not equipped, but there is Riva Bianca Bar to refresh you.

    Lierna is also famous for its beautiful liberty city (since the early 900s it has been a holiday destination for the rich) among which they stand out Villa Besana or Aurelia and Villa Pini. Don't forget to visit the Church of Saints Maurizio and Lazzaro, of Romanesque origin, inside which there are interesting frescoes of the '500 and a relic of S. Maurizio, and the bell tower of the Church of Sant'Ambrogio. Dedicated to the patron saint, this bell tower dates back to the year XNUMX and is one of the oldest in all of Lombardy.

    Where to eat in Lierna

    • Leeward Restaurant: nice restaurant overlooking the lake, the specialty is lake fish. It has a great tasting menu.
    • Riva Bianca restaurant bar: located in Riva Bianca, right in front of the lake, they make excellent pizzas, wraps and fast first courses. 
    • La Breva Restaurant: gourmet and classy restaurant. Obviously more expensive than the others but very good.

    Where sleeping in Lierna

    • Apartment in residence with swimming pool overlooking the lake: a friend of mine rents this cute lake view apartment in a residence with 2 swimming pools and tennis courts .. pas mal!
    • Rustic villa overlooking the lake: she also rents this classy rustic villa (Air BnB Plus in fact ..) with private garden and, of course, lake view. Simply magnificent !!!
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