Today it was off to the western shore of Lake Como to explore Lenno and Tremezzo. Both are relatively small villages, but lack the character and charm of Varenna and Bellagio. The attraction to both villages is the villas. Just outside of Lenno is Villa Balbianello and located in Tremezzo is Villa Carlotta. I took the boat first to Lenno to visit Villa Balbianello. I was looking forward to walking through the town as Tuesday is market day in Lenno. Unfortunately, the market was a mishmash of everything from underwear to shoes to cleaning products. There were a couple of stands selling fruits and veggies, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
To reach Villa Balbianello you walk along the lakefront part of the way and can either walk the rest of the way or take a boat. The villa is built in a rocky headland jutting out into Lake Como. I opted to walk, and it was a pretty steep walk (a half mile or so) over the hill before dropping down to the villa. Once there, it was about 15 minutes until the next tour in English. The villa was originally a monastery and then bought and converted into a villa in the 18th century. Most recently it was owned by Guido Monzino. When he died in 1988, he left the villa to the National Trust. There are 6 floors and the tour starts at the top and makes its way down. Monzino had a fascinating collection of artifacts from his many expeditions, most notably to the North Pole and Mt. Everest. The 6th floor is devoted to memorabilia from his expeditions. After the tour, I spent a little time wandering in the gardens and then returned to town.
Next up was a short ferry ride to Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta. I had read about a good pizza restaurant in Tremezzo, but of course did not write down the name or address. I asked a shopkeeper about pizza and she said she thinks the restaurant I was asking about closed and recommended Ristorante Azalea, with a small patio directly on the lake. I had prosciutto cotto pizza that was heads above the one I had in Varenna the other day. Yum! I topped it off with Catalan cream with orange scent. Sitting right on the lake enjoying the view only added to my enjoyment of the meal.
My final stop was at Villa Carlotta, a 17th century villa built overlooking the shores of Lake Como, surrounded by 20 acres of gardens. I spent about an hour wandering around the gardens. The highlight was a stop at the panoramic view in the Olive tree grove.
Then it was back to the boat and across the lake to Varenna. I stopped for a couple of Coca Cola Lights (Europe’s version of Diet Coke) at the bottega and then came back to the hotel. Aperitivo was on the agenda again tonight, along with a gelato by the water. (I am not really a wine drinker, but I am enjoying the Prosecco and tried a local rosé wine tonight.) Tomorrow I’m heading to the medieval city of Bergamo, about an hour away by train from Varenna.