A wonderful small medieval village situated on a steep hillside with narrow alleys that lead down to the lakeside. The ruins of Castle Vezio sits atop this steep hillside which was the last home of a 7th century Lombard Queen, Theodolinda.
Although it is much smaller than Bellagio and Menaggio and less commercial, it is less crowded and has excellent hotels and restaurants. Villa Cipressi which is now a hotel and Villa Monastero which is now an international and cultural scientific centre are the two prominent lakeside villas in Varenna. The gardens of both of these villas are open to the public (April – October).
The main piazza of Varenna is dominated by the 14th century church Chiesa di San Giorgio which features frescoes both inside and out. Opposite this church stands a much older and smaller church called Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista.
Years ago, a quarry was opened for the black marble that can be found in outcrops near Varenna and thus kept the town prosperous for many years. The famous G.B Pirelli (Pirelli tires) was born in Varenna.