As one deboards the ferry into the village of Varenna, luckily, that is all the work one needs to do when staying at the Hotel Olivedo. Quickly making itself known to the wandering traveler with it’s engraved “Hotel” sign at it’s top floor, it’s not hard to miss the bright yellow inn—it’s across the street from the ferry station. Welcoming guests since 1896, the Olivedo encourages visitors to embrace a long-honored tradition on Lake Como: enjoying the sweetness of nothing.
An adage that can be traced back to Roman times, “Il Dolce Far Niente,” or “The Sweetness of Nothing,” is a matter of principle in Varenna and the surrounding towns of Lake Como. Ancient villas on the dappled waters give evidence that humans have sought leisure in this region for centuries, taken by the natural beauty and peaceful environs. An escape miles away from the fast-paced city of Milan, it is more than acceptable in Varenna and its neighboring settlements to truly do “nothing” for one’s stay.
Run by the same family for four generations, the charming Hotel Olivedo awakens an appreciation for the old tricks of simple leisure. Equipped with antique alcove ready for reading, a restaurant with an outdoor patio perfect for people watching, and rooms that look out onto the serene blue waters, it’s a bastion of solitude for those familiar with the fast-paced business world. While small, it has the ability to create big changes with only the gift of a room key. Sipping a cappuccino in it’s 19th Century breakfast chambers, it’s not hard to adopt the philosophy of enjoying life’s sweet slowness.
Written By: Seamus McMahon