We’re traveling types who are now happy parents and an opportunity to cross the great Atlantic Ocean with our son came up while he was still in the womb. We booked our trip to Lake Como and I put in a request for bulkhead seats before he was born. Bound for Italy to attend a friend’s wedding, it was also the perfect impetus for our first family vacation. Italy is familiar territory, somewhere we’ve traveled several times before and while Italian isn’t a second language to me, it’s one I still feel comfortable enough in when I need it.
The adventure ahead was to a region neither of us knew and certainly it would be a type of trip neither of us had ever been on but we couldn’t be more excited to start introducing SBC to the world. Planning for travel with 3.5 month-old, besides planning for the unplanned, meant that we considered our agenda a little differently. For one thing, we decided to go about a week ahead of the wedding to adjust before the whirlwind of excitement in seeing so many of our friends and joining in on the festivities. Second, we would need a home base during this acclimation period. We began our trip in an AirBnB and chose it based on its proximity both to the lake and a village center, and its large outdoor terrace overlooking Lake Como. Enter Lenno. This is how we ended up in what turned out to be the perfect little village for a little family before heading southward for our hotel and merriment bonanza.
Lenno remained a bit of a mystery to us as its Wikipedia page is among the shorter entries. The heart of the village itself is a quiet cobblestone town square with a several hundred-year-old church, bells and all, and a pedestrian walkway that snakes along with the lake, port to numerous small boats, a handful of swimmers, and a family of ducks. The walkway is actually part of a “Greenway” which runs along much of the western side of Lake Como. The area boasts a handful of restaurants and bistros and an all-natural gelateria. The town’s main renown is that it’s home to Villa del Balbianello, a storied place bequeathed to Italy by its final owner, Guido Monzino, responsible for leading Italy to both the peak of Mount Everest and the North Pole. It was also used as a location in Casino Royale (2006). The villa is only accessible by boat or a 20-odd minute climb but its grandeur is worth the trek. Also, in a house just beyond the central village is where Mussolini was executed as learned on a jog from Andrew, who always reads the plaque.
The eateries of Lenno were understated and unfussy, but the food delicious. At the foot of the trek to Balbianello was Lido di Lenno, possibly the most high-end of the options but the cuisine and wine selection as delightful as its setting. A lido indicates a bathing beach in Italian and so one could also rent a bed and umbrella to sunbathe. Other honorable mentions for delightful meals alfresco include Pasticceria Bar Sport, Trattoria Santo Stefano, and Bar Il Golfo which looks super casual and it is but the food is great and they serve food all day and late into the night, unlike many restaurants in Europe. The ice cream shop, La Fabbrica del Gelato, was actually right beneath our terrace. Needless to say, we sampled flavors daily.
Lenno is not for those looking to shop or see and be seen but simply anyone who wants to relax off-grid and stare off at the landscape. There were only two boutiques that I had found and one always seemed to have a version of a “Back in 5” sign. There were also two grocery stores, one of which never seemed to be open.
That said, Lake Como has a well-developed ferry service both for pedestrians or those traveling by car and we used it to take a day trip to Bellagio where shops abound along steep winding cobblestone streets. There was also an abundance of American tourists here whereas Lenno’s tourists seemed to be a lot of regular summer visitors from neighboring France and nearby Switzerland. Lenno also boasted a ton of other prams, presumably thanks to the area’s flat and pedestrian-friendly vista.
Despite Lenno’s quiet nature, it boasts a weekly Tuesday market of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, meat, and fish. The market also entails quite a large clothing selection but most of it lackluster.
We spent every evening dining in the open-air, SBC often already asleep, easy to pick up and place in the crib that came with our apartment rental as we sampled fresh pasta, local wines, delectable tomatoes and zucchini, and dessert, always dessert. Andrew typically paired his with amaro, a new favorite digestif which has become a bit of a hobby to discover, and I with an espresso. Eating outside makes dining as a family easy should you need to get up and tend to a discontented baby, plus our son loves to be outside. With plenty of other families around, we never felt like we were a nuisance. Lenno proved the perfect, unassuming holiday spot. The only thing missing was a pool but luckily, the next leg of our trip was in Moltrasio where were stayed at a resort with a pool overlooking the lake, a phenomenal breakfast… and a babysitter.