Lenno is a village in the Centre Lake Area overlooking the splendid Gulf of Venus. The town boasts authentic artistic jewels, including the world-famous Villa del Balbianello. A charming walk leads to the Sacred Mountain of Ossuccio, one of the nine pre-Alpine sacred mountains that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The itinerary covers an area known locally as Zoca de l’Oli or “oil hollow”. In fact, the area enjoys such mild climate it is perfect for growing olives and producing olive oil.
From the boat dock of Lenno follow the lake side promenade until you reach Piazza XI Febbraio. Here you will find the church of S. Stefano and the ancient octagonal baptistery dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist. The present parish church rests its foundation on a site of ancient religious tradition testified by its crypt dated back to the end of the eleventh century. The baptistery, which dates back to the second half of the eleventh century, is a fine example of the local Romanesque style, sober with simple decorations of blind arches.
Continue along the lake side promenade which overlooks the beautiful Gulf of Venere. One of the most famous villas of the lake, the Villa Balbianello, is located on the
promontory of Lavedo. It was built in the late 1700s on order of Cardinal Angelo Durini. The garden is a green jewel nestled in the blue of the lake. Unsurprisingly, the villa has been chosen many times as a film set; some of the films shot here include Star Wars and Casino Royale. On the upper floor of the residence there is an unusual museum that brings together the art collections and travel souvenirs of the villa’s last owner, the explorer Guido Monzino, a lover of expeditions and man of great culture. In his will, he left the villa to the Italian National Trust, FAI. The villa (guided visits only) and the park can be visited for most of the year. There is a regular taxi boat service to the villa departing close to Lido of Lenno. The pedestrian access is about a 1 km walk from the lido.
From Lenno you can walk up the Sacro Monte of Ossuccio. Along the cobbled street that gradually climbs to the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine del Soccorso (419 metres above sea level) are a series of frescoed chapels decorated with statues and stuccoes by the Intelvese School. Dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary, these small temples were built between 1635 and 1714 and are part of the context of the pre-Alpine Sacred Mountains of Piedmont and Lombardy, sacred complexes at the entrance to the Alpine valleys in places of particular landscape interest. The aim of the Sacred Mountains was to favour, by means of a pilgrimage, consolidation of the faith thanks to an admirable integration of spiritual, architectural, artistic and natural elements and at the same time to combat the diffusion of Protestant Reformation. The itinerary ends at the Church of the Beata Vergine that houses prestigious frescoes and stuccoes, as well as a 14th-century Our Lady with Child. Given its historical and artistic importance, the complex was declared a World Heritage of Humanity site.
The “Greenway”, a gentle walk of approximately 3 hours between Colonno and Cadenabbia, also passes through Lenno. It follows the traces of the Antica Strada Regina, an ancient Roman road which connected Como with the Alpine passes.
Every Tuesday there is a lively market (morning only) on the lakeside.
Directions & Parking
By public transport
Boat tickets can be purchased on-line (www.navigazionelaghi.it) or at the Navigazione ticket office at Menaggio. You could decide to buy a day ticket for the central lake area which includes Menaggio, Varenna, Bellagio, Cadenabbia and Tremezzina (the boat docks at Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo and Lenno).