The southeastern leg of Lake Como, Italy is actually named Lake Lecco, although this leg of the lake connects directly to Lake Como. At the southern tip of Lake Lecco is the town of Lecco, with approximately 48,000 inhabitants, is about half the size of the town of Como which is located nearby to the west on the southern tip of the southwestern leg of Lake Como. I suspect that maybe at some point in history, it was decided to give Lecco the same prominence as Como by having the southeastern leg of the lake named after the town. But then again, Lecco is located on the western side of the two lakes, and the western side was historically never as prominent as the eastern side. As I understand it, the western side was more popular and was more developed due to the fact that the ancient Roman road, called the Antica Strada Regina, from Milan to the south to Como and to the Alps to the north, was located along the western side of the lake.
Lecco has a small but impressive and very picturesque historic center. Just adjacent is the River Adda which flows southward out of the lake. The old town center is worth visiting for its numerous large open plazas which are full of activity and café’s and restaurants which are very popular for outdoor dining, several fine churches and Cathedral, several museums, and especially a gorgeous lakefront that is flanked by a double row of large shade trees and spectacular views to the lake and the surrounding mountains, and lots of park benches for people watching. The lakefront is very active with people and children and tourists all throughout the day and evening. Add in a few fishing boats and ducks and geese, and it is a very pleasant place to spend some time.
One of Lecco’s main attractions is that it was the backdrop for the famous classic novel The Betrothed written by hometown novelist Alessandro Manzoni. This novel was “a masterpiece of Italian literature and an ‘epic’ story of the humble in which a love story between two peasants, Renzo and Lucia, is set against the historical backdrop of the Spanish occupation of the 17th century”. The story of the novel takes place in Lecco and the surrounding area. There is a tour available which starts at the Villa Manzoni, the writer’s home, now a museum. One of the old town’s main city squares is named after Manzoni and includes his statue.
Dominating the town center is the Basilica of San Nicolo, the town cathedral, which has a beautiful Romanesque interior with a fantastic coffered and frescoed vaulted ceiling. Its multi-tiered bell tower seems to soar excessively tall over the cathedral but, then again, seems reasonable as it competes with the surrounding soaring mountain peaks.
Speaking of mountain peaks, Lecco is blessed with numerous mountain hiking trails of all levels of difficulty nearby. The local tourist office in the town center has information and maps.
I was duly impressed with the local town center butcher shop, the Rusconi Machelleria Salmeria (see photos) located on the Piazza XX . With so many varieties of meat and cured meats, all displayed artfully, it is a meat lover’s heaven, and is just as worth a visit as any art museum, unless you are a vegetarian.
Unlike towns on the western shores of the lake, Lecco is located along a main north-south train route. Its modern train station is located within the town center and has easy connections to Milan and Bergamo to the south and, to the north, lake towns along the eastern side of Lake Como including Varenna and Colico.