Lecco is a true hidden gem on Lake Como’s southeastern branch.
The area’s city sits at the southeastern tip of Lake Como, where the lake narrows into the Adda River before expanding again to form Lake Garlate.
Even though it’s the largest city in the southeastern region of the lake, Lecco is actually one of the less popular places on Lake Como, often overshadowed by the more famous Como or smaller villages like Varenna and Bellagio.
Despite this, it’s absolutely worth visiting if you travel to Lake Como and have a few days to explore.
On one of my most recent trips from Milan to Lake Como, I got to spend some time in Lecco and I really enjoyed exploring the quaint city!
While it may lack the picturesque and colorful vibes of the smaller villages, it more than makes up for it with beautiful lakeside promenades, museums, and hiking areas.
Tips for Visiting Lecco
You can enjoy a pleasant stay in Lecco any time of the year, but shoulder months provide the best balance of good weather, lower prices, and smaller crowds.
For that best blend, April to May and late September are the best periods for visiting Lecco.
Of course, you can also visit the city in the summer!
However, while Lecco may be among the lesser-visited places on the lake, it can still get crowded (and expensive!) in the peak tourist season from June to early September.
Winter, on the other hand, is the best season for a crowd-free visit — and it won’t be super cold either.
Thanks to the surrounding mountains forming a bit of a barrier, Lecco tends to have milder temperatures than, say, Milan in winter.
With that said, you can still expect rain and gray skies throughout most of the winter months.
As for the time necessary to see all of Lecco, I would say one day is enough to explore the city and check out the main landmarks.
Spend a night in Lecco if you want to visit the museums and hike in the mountains nearby.
Things to Do in Lecco, Italy
Lecco is perhaps best known as the setting of Alessandro Manzoni’s most famous novel, The Betrothed. As such, the city features various spots related to the novel, including an entire museum dedicated to the author.
While Italians are generally familiar with the novel, most foreigners are unlikely to have read it.
However, it can still be interesting to check out the museum and places mentioned in the novel to learn more about it, and you might even decide to give the novel a try!
Not convinced? Don’t worry! If you’re not interested in literature, there is plenty to do in Lecco.
Wander around town and enjoy the view.
Lecco may be one of the largest cities on Lake Como, but you can easily walk around the historical center and to all the important landmarks.
While you’re wandering around, check out the lakefront Piazza XX Settembre, stroll along Via Roma, and look for the iconic Monument to Manzoni.
From Piazza XX Settembre, you can walk along the lakeshore on Lungolario Isonzo and stop off in the small lakefront park.
The area offers an iconic view of Lecco’s bell tower, Campanile di San Nicolò, against the stunning backdrop of the mountains.
North of the bell tower, you can continue walking along the pedestrian way Lungolago di Lecco while enjoying even more beautiful lake views.
Visit the Church of Saint Nicolò and climb the bell tower.
The Neoclassical Church of Saint Nicolò has a gorgeous interior with pink marble columns and beautiful frescoes by Giotto.
While the striking tower often steals the show, it’s worth visiting the church interior too!
At 96 meters (315 feet) in height, Campanile San Nicolò, also known as Campanile di Lecco (literally “Lecco’s Bell Tower”), is one of the tallest in Europe.
You can visit the bell tower on a guided tour, and climb the 396 steps to enjoy a spectacular 360°-view of Lecco, the lake, and the surrounding mountains.
Plan ahead before your trip, though, since online booking is necessary to climb the tower.
You can check the tower’s website and pick a date to book the guided tour.
Opening days and times can vary depending on the season, so check all the details ahead of time. The entire guided tour lasts roughly one hour.
Explore the open-air museum of Pescarenico.
Pescarenico is a small district of Lecco, made famous as the only place explicitly mentioned in Manzoni’s The Betrothed.
In the 16th century, Pescarenico was a small fishing village centered around the main square in the village, Piazza Era.
The area has maintained the charm of an old-time village, with historical, colorful houses and a small port.
Even if you haven’t read Manzoni’s novel, you can enjoy wandering around this picturesque area along with the lovely lake view.
Check out the exhibitions at Palazzo delle Paure.
Palazzo delle Paure is a neo-medieval building from the early 20th century.
The name of the building literally translates to “Palace of Fears” and dates back to when the building housed the customs and finance offices (fearful indeed!).
Today, Palazzo delle Paure is home to one of the most important museums in Lecco.
The second floor houses a permanent contemporary art exhibition, while the ground floor is dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
Visit Villa Manzoni to see the city’s historical legacy.
Villa Manzoni holds a significant place in both Lecco and the life and literary works of Alessandro Manzoni.
The villa belonged to the writer’s family and inspired him to write the very first lines of his masterpiece!
If you want to learn more about the celebrated author, Villa Manzoni is the best place to go.
The museum is entirely dedicated to the life and works of Manzoni, housing antique furniture and original artworks.
You can get a ticket just for the Villa Manzoni or a combined ticket, which includes entry to Palazzo delle Paure.
Hike to Crocione San Martino.
Crocione San Martino is a large cross standing at the top of Monte San Martino, the iconic mountain that towers over Lecco.
The scenic viewpoint offers one of the best views over Lake Como, but the hike is actually quite challenging!
The loop trail is roughly 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) long and takes around four hours, but the trail isn’t for everyone, as it includes portions of actual rock climbing, but it’s a great workout for experienced hikers.
Don’t worry if you’re not feeling up for this intense hike, though! There are alternative trails to reach Crocione San Martino.
Sentiero dei Pizzetti (starting from Via Stelvio) is the most difficult, while Sentiero da Rancio (starting from Via Paradiso) is still challenging but more accessible.
Admire the view from Belvedere Parco Valentino.
One scenic viewpoint close to Lecco that somehow beats the one from Crocione San Martino is Belvedere Parco Valentino.
A viewing platform extends from the mountain toward the lake, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. For my money, this is probably the most beautiful view in Lombardy.
The viewing platform is high up, so it’s important to go on a clear day. On a cloudy day, you may even find yourself above the clouds, which is admittedly a unique experience, but you won’t get to see much of the lake.
As you might expect, sunset is a great time to visit, as the gorgeous light illuminates the entire region for a truly magical effect.
The only downside to this place is that it’s not very easy to reach, but there are a couple options!
The easiest way is by car. You can drive about 40 minutes from Lecco, park in Piani Resinelli, and then walk for half an hour to the viewpoint.
If you don’t have access to a car, you can also get there by bus number 7. The bus stops roughly 10 minutes away from the parking lot.
Roxana is a Romanian-born freelance travel writer who has lived in Italy for over 15 years. She has a Master’s in Journalism and a Bachelor’s in Film Studies, and she studied at Università degli Studi di Roma Tre. Besides her native Romania, Roxana has lived in Rome, Lisbon, and Berlin, and she has traveled through much of Europe in search of hidden gems, history, and culture.