If you take the ferry to Lenno and disembark at the jetty, you may not be immediately impressed with this small waterside town. You will see a hotel in front of you, another hiding behind the trees to the right, but you will be drawn to the promenade which guides you southwards to where the cafes and small boats are. It is actually a very pleasant, traditional, holiday destination with plenty of families and couples from all over the world, but especially, it seems to me, from Italy.
The views from Lenno are amazing and if you make yourself comfortable in one of the cafes or restaurants, you will find that time runs away with you. The whole atmosphere is so relaxing that you may even forget to continue your walk south to explore the Villa del Balbianello. Built in the 18th century on a wooded promontory, on the site of a former monastery, the Villa is in the classic Italian style and is known for its beautiful terraced gardens. Perhaps its location on a peninsula, together with its classic style, superb grounds and glorious views are what made it such a popular choice as a movie location.
Movie buffs may recognize the Villa from the James Bond movie, ‘Casino Royale’ (2002), or ‘A Month at the Lake’ (1995) which was based on a book by H.E. Bates set in 1937. Even more famously, the Villa del Balbianello featured in ‘Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones’ (2002), hence it is often referred to as the “Star Wars Villa”. You can visit from 10am until 6pm most days, but it is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays. Check the website for Winter opening times or call +39 0344 56110.
If you are more in the mood for some relaxation or the kids are longing for a swim, head for the Lido de Lenno. It is only five Euros to get in and they serve reasonably priced snacks and drinks. Go after dark too; that is when it transforms into a cool outdoor bar and night spot.
While in Lenno, treat yourself to a bottle of their famous, traditionally cold-pressed olive oil. The Vanini family have been producing it in Lenno since 1850 and it is available from their stone mill on Via Silvio Pellico or from almost any grocery shop. The golden taste will remind you of your visit when you are back home.