Lecco is a city located on the southeastern branch of Lake Como, between the pristine waters of the lake and the scenic Orobian Pre-Alps.
Once a medieval hamlet, its historic town center contains well-preserved nineteenth-century and neoclassical style architectures including Palazzo delle Paure. The city commonly referred as ‘that branch of Lake Como‘ is famous for its various ‘Manzonian locations‘ mentioned in the renowned Italian historical novel – The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni.
Strolling through the lakeside promenade lined with stately trees, one can’t help but admire Lecco’s breathtaking landscape.
Lecco can be reached by a train route from Milan that also passes through some other famous towns (Varenna, Colico, etc.,) on the east of the lake. There are buses which connect Como and Lecco and summertime public boat services between Bellagio, Varenna and Lecco.
Read this guide to discover the best things to do in Lecco!
Lecco’s historic town centre and its important landmarks can be visited by an easy and pleasant walk between its two main connecting squares – Piazza Mario Cermenati and Piazza XX Settembre.
Due to its flat terrain, it is easily accessible even for people with special needs.
Piazza Cermenati overlooks Lake Como and contains a dedicated monument to Mario Cermenati after whom the square is named. Behind Piazza Cermenati is the Basilica of San Nicolò (Saint Nicholas), the patron saint of Lecco, sailors and boatmen.
The notable feature of this basilica is its 96 metre neo-gothic bell tower also called as the ‘Matitone’ (big pencil) because of its characteristic shape. Its height is on par with London’s Big Ben.
Walking along Piazza Cermenati will lead you to Piazza XX Settembre which is the heart of Lecco’s town center. This picture-perfect square is enclosed by both modern and neoclassical buildings, restaurants and cafeterias – where charming past meets the modern present.
Located in Piazza XX Settembre is Palazzo delle Paure (Palace of Fears). The palace which once collected taxes now hosts local and international contemporary art, photography and graphics and it is open to the public.
Another medieval gem to discover in Piazza XX Settembre is Torre Viscontea (Visconti Tower). This tower is the only visible remains of a fourteenth-century castle of Lecco, built by Azzone Visconti, who wanted Lecco to be a fortified village. Today, both Torre Visconti and Palazzo delle Paure belong to the Civic Museum of Lecco.
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The pristine waters of the southern most part of the eastern branch of Lake Como can be enjoyed along Lecco’s lakeside promenade – one of the longest promenades of Lake Como. It is lined with majestic trees and benches for leisure.
Walking along the promenade you can view the Lecco port, the scenic Alpine range of Orobie and Lecco’s side of the Larian Triangle. This triangle is formed by Como to the southwest, Lecco to the southeast and Bellagio to the north of both Como and Lecco.
From the lakefront, you can also catch glimpses of historical buildings in Lecco’s town centre that extends parallel to the lake.
One of the most notable features that you can notice as you walk along the lakefront is the golden statue of Saint Nicholas located in the Punta Maddalena area on the lake. He is the patron saint of Lecco and the progenitor of the world-famous Santa Claus.
Palazzo delle Paure (Palace of fears) is a palace in Lecco’s town centre in Piazza XX Settembre overlooking Lake Como and Piazza Cermenati. This nineteenth century, neo-medieval eclectic style palace was built on a part of the fortified village’s old town wall.
It served as the customs house until 1964 where Lecco’s citizens came to pay their taxes and hence its peculiar name. On the tower is the Visconti family’s marble coat of arms representing a snake with a child.
This four-floor building now hosts temporary art exhibitions and it is open to visitors (tap here for opening times and entrance ticket fees details). The palace has a dedicated contemporary art section and a photography and graphics section.
The contemporary art section displays the works of the most important local artists such as Gasparini, Vitali, Stefanoni, Secomandi, Chiappori and some of the greatest Italian artists such as Baj, Cavaliere, Castellani, Pomodoro, Rotella and Scanavino.
Alessandro Manzoni is famous for his literary masterpiece – The Betrothed, set in and around Lecco – “that branch of Lake Como” made so famous by him and hence his name is synonymous with Lecco.
Pescarenico, the only place directly mentioned in The Betrothed, is a fisherman’s village on the shores of River Adda. This colorful village with narrow streets and restaurants can be reached by crossing the Azzoni Visconti Bridge and the Viscontea Island.
Villa Manzoni & Museo Manzoniano
Villa Manzoni, a neoclassical building near downtown Lecco, was young Manzoni’s summer residence. The Manzonian Museum contains original furnishings and Manzoni’s works. You can visit the museum and the civic art gallery with a unique ticket (tap here for details).
Castello dell’Innominato, a fourteenth-century hilltop castle in Vercurago, was the residence of Innominato (the Unnamed) in The Betrothed. You can reach the castle by train or bus from Lecco followed by a short hike and enjoy 360° panoramic views. Good hiking shoes are recommended.
Public boat tours
Looking for information about public boat service? Read my guide to boats and ferries on Lake Como!
You can find the port of Lecco in Via Lungolario Isonzo along the Lakeside promenade just opposite to Piazza Cermenati. From here you can take the public boat to Bellagio. Boat services in Lecco are available only in the summer, hence you can take the bus during the off-season from Lecco to Bellagio.
Beaches in Lecco
If you are in Lecco and want to relax on a beach, you can get to Lido Orsa Maggiore. You can also take a train from Lecco to other nearby beaches such as Abbadia Lariana’s white pebble beach, Pradello beach and Mandello Lario’s beach. Another option is the beach in Oliveto Lario which you can reach by bus D10.
Discover the best beaches in Lake Como!