Varenna is a wonderful small medieval village situated on a steep hillside with narrow alleys that lead down to the lakeside. At the top of this steep hillside sits the ruins of a castle (Castello Vezio) which was the last home of a 7th century Lombard Queen (Theodolinda). Although it is much smaller than Bellagio and Menaggio, is is far less commercial and less crowded and has excellent hotels and restaurants. There are also two lakeside villas; Villa Cipressi which is now a hotel and Villa Monastero which is now an international and cultural scientific centre; the gardens of both of these villas are open to the public (open April – October).
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 tyres) was born in Varenna.