Varenna, Lago di Como

Lake Como

Among the chains of the Orobie Prealps, renowned for its charming villages and splendid villas rich in art and history, Lake Como is a popular tourist destination for its natural beauties and for the history that you can breathe in the places where famous writers, musicians and prominent characters have spent their time: Foscolo, Byron, Verdi, Rossini, Napoleone, Churchill. We cannot forget Alessandro Manzoni who among these "mountains rising from the water and raised to the sky" has set his masterpiece "the Bethroted".

Here we suggest 5 places not to be missed along its 185 kilometres of perimeter, for which we have verified the conditions of accessibility

COMO
Located at the southernmost point of the western branch, with its valuable monuments, the interesting old town and the picturesque views, Como is a must.
You can start your visit from the Cathedral, considered one of the most beautiful monuments of northern Italy. The construction of the church started at the end of the fourteenth century and was completed centuries later with the dome by Filippo Juvara, in 1740. Imposing and harmonious despite the different styles, from the Gothic of the facade to the Renaissance of the sides and of the side doors, inside it preserves numerous works of considerable importance, including the "Adorazione dei Magi" by Bernardino Luini, the "Sposalizio della Vergine" and the "Fuga in Egitto" by Gaudenzio Ferrari, Renaissance tapestries and a  16th century altarpiece by Sant'Abbondio, protector of the city.
Here you can find information on the accessibility of the cathedral.

In the city centre, in the medieval area behind the Cathedral, is the Basilica of San Fedele, built on an earlier paleo Christian church dating back to the 6th century. The plant is Romanesque, with irregular naves and central plan, the choir, finely decorated with zoomorphic figures, monsters and griffins. A useful presentation of the basilica can be found at this link

The interior can be visited without obstacles and on-site a paper guide on the history of the church is available in Italian, French and German.
At this link you can find information on accessibility.

From the Cathedral, along the lakefront promenade, you can reach Villa Olmo by walking for about 2 km. Alternatively, you can drive to the parking area of the villa. The villa took its name from a magnificent elm, no longer existing today, that at that time was more than one hundred years old.

On the lakefront, we recommend a stop at the Tempio Voltiano (Volta temple). Built in 1927 in neoclassical style in honour of the centennial of Alessandro Volta's death, it hosts a small museum  with busts, bas-reliefs and memorabilia pertaining to Volta, as well as letters, documents, portraits, medals and scientific equipment. Valuable  are the mosaic floors and the decorations. The temple can be visited without obstacles and admission is free for people with disabilities and their carers. Here you can find information on accessibility.

The Basilica of Sant'Abbondio is an important example of Lombard Romanesque architecture and a masterpiece of the masters from Como. The basilica is in Via Regina, outside the city walls, under  Mount Croce. The origins of the Romanesque church of Sant'Abbondio, are paleo Christians and it dates back to the fifth century. The church was built in place of the early Christian church dedicated to the SS. Pietro e Paolo, where Amanzio, the third Bishop of Como, had buried the relics of the two apostles. Today the monastery houses the Faculty of Law of the Università dell'Insubria.
For information on accessibility, please click on this link

Outside the walls, behind the highway 342, you can find the Museo didattico della Seta, a place of the historical memory of the Como industry. The exhibition area and the variety of exhibits allow the historical-didactic reconstruction of silk work. More information on the place, visits and educational proposals can be found in the museum website
At this link you can find information on accessibility.

To admire Como and its lake from above, you can use the cableway that, from the city centre, takes you to Brunate, the so-called Balcony of the Alps, where you can enjoy a splendid view of the city, the lake and the surrounding mountains.
At this link you can find information on how to move in the city and on the accessibility of the cableway.

LECCO
In the city of Renzo and Lucia, on the eastern branch of Lake Como, we suggest you visit Villa Manzoni, where the writer spent his childhood and now houses the Manzoni Museum, which exhibits in 10 rooms manuscripts and relics concerning the life and works of Manzoni. An external descriptive panel illustrates the history of the villa, with texts also in Braille. Free entrance for disabled people and their carers.
At  this link you can find information on accessibility.

Driving north for about 1 km, you reach Palazzo Belgiojoso, which houses the Archaeological Museum, the Historical Museum and the Museum of Natural History. They are all accessible to visitors. Here you can find information on accessibility.

If you are interested in constellations and celestial bodies, do not miss a visit to the Planetary, which has a latest generation projection system. Admission is free for people with disabilities and their carers; here you can find information on accessibility.

The Basilica of San Nicolò is worth a visit: it is in the heart of Lecco and you can reach it by going down towards the lake front. Preceded by a vast parvis, accessed via a double staircase in grey stone, your attention is immediately  attracted by the neo-gothic bell tower, symbol of the city, built between 1882 and 1904: with its 96 meters, it is the tallest of the Archdiocese of Milan. The paintings and some furnishings are valuable. In particular, the frescoes of the Giotto school, such as the Annunciazione and the Deposizione and a splendid series representing the life of Sant'Antonio Abate are of great value.
Here you can find information on accessibility.

The last stop we suggest is Palazzo delle Paure, in the city centre by the lake: built in the early 1900s, its name comes from the fact that until 1960s, it was the seat of the Finance Authority, the Land Registry and Customs, where the people of Lecco had to pay taxes. With its eclectic neo-medieval style, it now hosts some temporary exhibitions, the Municipal Art Gallery and the  Lecco Mountaineering Observatory. In the Palazzo della Paure there is also a digital totem with information about the whole itinerary.
Here you can find information on accessibility.
 
BELLAGIO
This picturesque village stands at the end of the promontory that separates the two branches of the lake, surrounded by greenery. The beautiful and colourful villas, among which Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi with its beautiful gardens, stone staircases and ancient churches make Bellagio a destination of particular charm.
Undoubtedly worth a visit is the Basilica of San Giacomo: built by the Masters Comacini between the eleventh and twelfth centuries; it is a beautiful example of Romanesque Lombard style. Its tall and mighty bell tower can be seen even from far away; the church  contains works of great value, including the triptych of the Madonna delle Grazie with San Rocco and San Sebastiano and the Deposizione di Gesù, attributed to the school of Perugino.
Here you can find information on the accessibility of the basilica.
Not far from the Basilica, the Gardens of Villa Melzi are the ideal place for a walk between nature and history. The large park overlooking the lake is an example of English garden. Along the paths, in compact gravel surface, you can admire rare and exotic plants, ancient trees, hedges of camellias, azalea forests and giant rhododendrons, sculptures and relics of historical and artistic value.
Free entrance for disabled people and their carers.
Guided tours and educational workshops are possible upon reservation (tel +39 333 4877427).
Here you can find information on the accessibility of the garden.  

About a mile from the Gardens of Villa Melzi, we recommend a stop at the Church of  San Giovanni Battista. Built in 1584 and partly a century later, its present appearance is the result of changes made in the second half of the 18th century, including the baroque façade with its bell tower with five bells, paintings, stuccos and gildings of the walls and the new high altar built in carved wood, surrounded by wooden statues of artists from the 18th century.
The most interesting work, donated a few years later and placed on the right aisle, is an altarpiece depicting "Christ resurrected among saints and donors": an oil painting of the XV-XVI century, by Gaudenzio Ferrari.
Every year, at the end of June, the traditional Bellagio festival takes place on the square of the church of San Giovanni. Three days of celebration with good typical cuisine, music and entertainment.
Here you can find information on accessibility.

For more information on Bellagio you can also visit its InfoPoint. For information on the accessibility of the infopoint, please click this link

VARENNA
In Varenna you can admire the medieval Church of San Giorgio on whose façade you can admire a fresco, presumably of the fourteenth century, depicting Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers. Here you can find information on accessibility
In the same square, there is the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where you can admire a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary with Child from the late 1500s and some 18th century frescoes. The baroque altar, in gilded wood with two large columns, comes from Villa Monastero.
Here you can find information on accessibility.

We also suggest you visit the church of San Giovanni Battista. It's a very old church and inside it preserves frescoes dating back to the XIV-XVI centuries, and Villa Monastero, which overlooks the lake with a splendid Botanical Garden which extends for two kilometres around the villa. The garden can be visited in all seasons; free entry for people with disabilities.
Here you can find information on accessibility. 

The Civic Museum of Ornithology and Natural Sciences L. Scanagatta has an interesting collection dedicated to the avifauna of the surrounding territory. Here you can find information on accessibility.

For all the information to better organize your visit, you can refer to the local Tourist Office. Here you can find information on accessibility.

MENAGGIO
A nice town, with a central square and a beautiful lakefront with a unique panorama from the west side of the lake.  Menaggio has ancient origins and its old town  is full of valuable artistic heritage: an excellent tool to discover the village is the website of the local tourist office.

Walking in the pedestrian area, we suggest a visit to the Church of San Carlo, with a characteristic Spanish style bell tower and, inside the church, you can admire interesting seventeenth-century paintings. Here you can find information on accessibility.

Also worth a stop are: the church of Santo Stefano, built in the seventeenth century on early Christian and Romanesque buildings and frescoed by Luigi Tagliaferri (here information on accessibilty) and the seventeenth century Sanctuary of the Madonna della Pace, in the village of Nobiallo, and from its small square you can enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Como, from Bellagio to Varenna.
Here you can find information on accessibility.

In the province of Como also reserve a visit: Villa del Balbianello in Lenno (here information on accessibility) and the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio in Tremezzina (here information on accessibility).
In the province of Lecco, there is also the Piona Abbey in Colico (here information on accessibility).

SEE THE LAKE FROM THE BOAT
Gestione Navigazione Laghi connects the main villages facing the shores of Lake Como.
For information, please visit: http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/#
The service welcomes passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility; for more information on fares, the accessibility of boats and docks and the assistance service, please visit: http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/assistenza-disabili.aspx
Boats  are a very interesting means of transport for tourists with disabilities, because they generally reach the centre of each village, where the territory is more suitable for people with reduced mobility: usually the lakefront and the neighbouring streets are flat and easily accessible even for people with reduced mobility.

The boat also allows you to avoid congested traffic and the search for a parking place.

Before leaving
On the Magazine Lakes Experiences in Lombardy you can find useful suggestions for your visit.

 

 

05/10/2018