The Town of Varenna  

on Lake Como in the Lombardy Region of Italy

“The charm of Varenna reveals itself and leaves us the wonder, the astonishment, the memory.” 


The tiny town of Varenna embraces pastel-colored houses, “delicate layers of
human history,” stacked against 
the mountainside,  the restful views of Lake
Como calming the soul. Stroll along the passerella from one tiny harbor to
another, under trailing wisteria and palm trees nodding gently in lakeside
breezes. Stop in a small cafe to sample the region’s famous risotto or to savor
yet another cappuccino. 

          Villa Monastero

Stay in private room in the grand Villa Monastero, set regally within lovely
botanical gardens and enjoy the allure of aristocratic times, full of the romance
of old world elegance. Formerly a Cistercian female convent, Villa Monastero
eventually became the home for Italy’s famous physicist, Enrico Fermi and
now provides a peaceful and spacious venue for international cultural studies.





photos: Linda Prospero and Dayle Fergusson

Kind Words 

Carol Sherrill, Danville, California, 2013
Set in medieval Santo, the eternal mood of stone streets and walls effectively separates one from ordinary concerns and encourages focus on the purpose. And…after the serious work of each session, we filled the rest of the day enjoying the beauty and culture of Abruzzo, the joy laughter of developing friendships, delightful regional food and—it should be said, a little wine.

Dan Martin, Kansas City, MO, 2012
The place is enchanting. It was a beautiful and inspiring location, with warm and generous hosts. I found the room great for sleeping; I loved the library for writing. The gatherings of the group around food were lively and engaging. The groups certainly came together, as people, travelers, writers. The excursions were stimulating and very nicely connected to place.

Arthur Darby, Calgary, Alberta, CA, 2012
Santo Stefano is a beautiful, charming spot and I loved it.

Julie Ramos, West Nyack, NY, 2011
Unusual, authentic, tragic, silent, Santo Stefano: great ambiance, some minor inconveniences, but hey, the place is 1,000 years old. I had what I needed. The views are stunning, unforgettable.

find California retreats and more at

The Heart of Memoir