Spring 2007 I took a daytrip from Bergamo, Italy, (where I was staying) to Lake Como. It was one of those convoluted trips requiring multiple forms of transportation — bus, train, ferry and cable car — to make it even possible. You can’t complain too much, however, when all your connections go off exactly as planned.
I spent most of that rainy day enjoying the beautiful scenery (more dramatic for the low-hanging clouds) and walking around the various gardens open for public viewing in the small cities around the lake. It was so that I happened to call in Varenna. Navigating winding pathways and tiny roads without sidewalks on my way to the villas I planned to visit, I happened upon this dilapidated staircase, which seems to capture nearly every romantic notion Americans cherish about Italy. Having said that, don’t you want to visit too?
Varenna struck me as a lovely place to enjoy a relaxed honeymoon. In the same instant, thinking I had discovered a real gem — charming, yet off the radar, as much as any city in such a visited area can be — I entered the first villa whose garden I’d come to see, and discovered a Rick Steves tour group staying there! So much for that theory . . .
Late spring — when the azaleas, rhododendrons and roses are already in bloom — is the best time to visit the gardens in this area. Bellagio is the city with the two largest gardens: Villa Serbelloni (visit by guided tour only; no tours when raining) and Villa Melzi d’Eril.
Follow other travelers around the world on Friday at the links posted here.