Varenna

Varenna is a beautiful village on Lake Como, situated in the Lecco branch of the lake, rich in art and history treasures.

The Castle of Vezio, with the mighty tower dominating the village of Varenna and the Lake Como Centre, the Gardens of Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero, the Source of Fiumelatte, the Sentiero del Viandante, the Parish Church of San Giorgio, the ancient Church of San Giovanni Battista, Piazza San Giorgio and the numerous concerts that enliven it, the Riva Grande, the Lovers’ Footbridge, the Sala De Marchi with its interesting exhibitions, the Bulwark – a mighty rock spur and unbeatable panoramic viewpoint – the Mid Coast Paths, the Lido.

Nominated as a fishing village in 769 it was allied in the era of the Communes in Milan, it was destroyed by the people of Como in 1126. It welcomed exiles from Comacina Island, which suffered similar fate in 1169: it was devastated, its castle and churches destroyed.

The district where they took refuge was called Insula nova, a name that was later extended to the entire village, which in a short time became one of the richest on the lake.

Still today every year the exodus of the Comacini and the welcome of the Varennese is celebrated. The exodus of the Comacini is celebrated with the historical commemoration in costume during the lake festival on the first Saturday of July after the feast of St. John on June 24th. The lake is illuminated by day with thousands of snails, floating lights abandoned on the water, as if to remember the derelict souls who sailed from one shore to the other, escaping from their burning houses.

The famous craftsmen called Maestri Comacini are the descendants of these people.

Passed like Valsassina under the control of the Torriani, it was then not without contrast in the possession of the Visconti since the end of the thirteenth century. Later the feud of Varenna passed to Pietro Dal Verme, ducal leader: in 1480 the Contado della Riviera with Varenna together with Mandello del Lario and Bellano, and the following year Dervio, Corenno, Monte Introzzo and the whole Tidone Valley, Pieve di Incino and Valsassina were added.

Pietro Dal Verme died poisoned by his wife in 1485, and the feud together with the others of the Riviera was assigned, not without disagreements of the citizens concerned, to Chiara Sforza, daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, widow Dal Verme. Despite frequent expropriations, Sforza was able to keep control of the situation until her death (1530), while her heirs Fregoso preferred to cede Varenna and the other feuds to the Sfondrati in 1533. From 1533 to 1788 the town was an important part of the fiefdom Sfondrati della Riviera.

Varenna fought militarily Lierna with Mandello for over 250 years, in 1375 Lierna became an integral part of Varenna, later Lierna managed to put an end to the feuds by obtaining its administrative independence in 1743.

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