Has anyone ever stayed in Perledo instead of Varenna? Fiumelatte? I can't tell if Perledo and Fiumelatte are going to be too remote/quiet/hard to get to without a car. Varenna looks ideal but we are planning so late I am having trouble finding a place available in Varenna that is in my price range and that suits our needs. We will not have a car. Family of 4: kids are early 20's and adults early 50s. Looking to enjoy some Italian food and wine, do some hiking, relax, enjoy the natural beauty of places unique to Italy. NOT looking for crowds, lines, touristy things. We will be on Lake Como in mid August as the final 4 days of a 10-day Italy trip (Florence and Verona are the other 2 home bases for the trip). Thoughts anyone?
I stayed at the Albergo Beretta (recommended in Rick's book). It was not in Varenna proper, but the walk along the water to Varenna was easy and very pleasant (and most of it is lit at night, so coming back from dinner was no problem). Albergo Beretta was a good value (it's not expensive), and is easy to get to from the Varenna-Esino station (just down the hill).
Perledo is really adjacent to Varenna, so no logistical problems staying there. You do not need a car. For a great dining experience, try Il Caminetto. Call to make a reservation and they will pick you up and bring up to their cute place in Gittana. They also return you after dinner. :-) Wonderful "tasting menu" at €25.00 per person is more than you should eat.
We stayed in Olcio at B&B Frontelago, and it was really fantastic. Way more for the money, but it did require getting back to Varenna on time to catch the train out (we actually never had to pay for the local train there b/c they don't have ticket machines and the ticket checker never came by to sell us a ticket since our ride was so short). One day we jumped off of the train at Fiumelatte and saw the river and walked the rest of the way to Varenna - it was no sweat.
Because we only had a few days in Varenna and we spent a whole day on the lake doing the self-guided ferry tour or hiking it worked out great!
I've always considered Perledo to be the same neighborhood as Varenna, so staying there won't be much different. I'm not quite sure where Fiumelatte is in relation to Varenna, but suspect it may be somewhat distant from the town.
I'm assuming you've checked the Guidebooks for listings? Are you looking for an apartment or hotel?
the ticket checker never came by to sell us a ticket
You are very lucky because if the Capotreno had found you your wallet would have been quite a lot lighter. You wouldn't be sold a ticket. You would have been charged a fine and a ticket. You are required to have a valid ticket before boarding the train and in the absence of one very large fines are handed out. The rules are clearly shown inside the trains, on the timetables, and at most stations.
Those unmanned stations work just like city buses in Italy - it is your responsibility to go to a newsagent , travel agency, or tabacaria and get your ticket prior to travel, and also have it validated in the machine prior to boarding. In the case of Varenna the travel agent just down from the station sells tickets.
I wouldn't have wanted anybody else to follow in your footsteps and think it is ok to test their luck breaking the law.
We stayed in an apartment with a great balcony in the southern Varenna area about a 20-30 minute walk into town past the Villa Monastero. You might consider an apartment and check a site like Homelidays. We were happy to relax and use the ferries out of Varenna to visit the surrounding towns for a week. We cooked at home a few nights in the apartment. The train station in the southern area of Varenna was derelict. Lake Commo then Interlaken and Grindelwald Switzerland the second week was one of the best vacations we ever had. The great weather we had the end of August helped too.
Thanks for all the advice. Think we have decided on Varenna center so as to avoid the hike up to Perledo (some sites mentioned it's hard on the knees!) and one site said the hike to Fiumelatte is dark at night. Will circle back after the trip to update this thread with what we find when we get there! Thanks again.