Once you arrive in Lecco, start your romantic tour from Pescarenico, the only district of the town specifically mentioned by Manzoni. This ancient fishing village retains much of its original structure, with alleys winding around the central Piazza Era and along the Adda river. Here, during the summer, during the Sagra di Pescarenico, the charming Regatta of the batei and lucie - the typical Lecco wooden boats - takes place, while all year round you can book a trip on one of these historic boats. This charming village on the left bank of the Adda River is home to the former convent of the Capuchin friars, the residence of Fra’ Cristoforo, one of the characters from the book. Here, you can also read the passage from the novel in which Lucia bids farewell to the mountains.
Then, wandering around the city centre, you will come across Villa Manzoni, a neoclassical building located in the Caleotto district, which is now a literary museum chronicling the life and works of the celebrated Italian writer, poet and playwright. At one time, however, it was the residence of Alessandro Manzoni's family and, as he himself writes in the introduction, Manzoni spent his entire childhood, adolescence and youth here. The Torre Viscontea and the Palazzo delle Paure are also worth a visit. The former, also known as the Mediaeval Tower, is the only visible remnant of the ancient castle fortress that encircled the town, while the Palazzo delle Paure is now a museum that periodically holds truly unmissable exhibitions.
If you prefer to travel by more traditional but still folkloristic means, then opt for a tour of the Gulf on a water taxi, offered from April to September. The excursion lasts about thirty minutes and passes by some of the most picturesque spots on the lake: it skirts the Canottieri Lecco and reaches the point where the lake meets the Adda, until it arrives at the Malgrate lakeside with the Rocca in the background, the 'two unbroken chains of mountains' of Manzonian recollection, with the peaks of the Grigna and Resegone.
It takes about an hour to reach Lecco from Milan or Bergamo, whether you travel by car or train. However, if you leave from Bellagio, it takes just over half an hour by car.
The Lecco lakefront
The lake can, of course, also be enjoyed from the shore, by taking a walk that goes to different parts of the city and offers very picturesque views.
Start from the central Piazza Cermenati, which overlooks the Gulf, and continue to the Santo Stefano area, passing by the landing stage and Piazza Stoppani: this is where you will find the statue dedicated to San Nicolò, the city's patron saint. It is a strategic point from which you can enjoy a beautiful panorama, silhouetted by the Alps on the horizon.
Head over there at sunset, when it's even more romantic!
The church of the Promessi Sposi
In the districts of Acquate and Olate are the two alleged houses of Lucia Mondella: alleged because it has never been possible to ascertain with certainty where Manzoni envisioned his female protagonist living. In both cases, the houses are very basic, built in the classic local style. The first is now private and cannot be visited, while the second houses an osteria: you will find it in Via Lucia. From the courtyard you can also see the Colle dello Zucco, where Don Rodrigo's Palazzotto once stood.
There is no doubt, however, about the church where the fearful Don Abbondio was supposed to celebrate the wedding of the two lovers; it is the church of San Giorgio in Acquate. Then there is the church where, at the end of many vicissitudes, he actually did perform the ceremony - the Church of Saints Vitale and Valeria, in Olate. Crossing Corso Bergamo, you reach Vercurago, where the Rocca dell’Innominato (Fortress of the Unnamed) is located.
If, on the other hand, views are more your passion, head for the Basilica di San Nicolò and book a visit to the bell tower: at 96 metres, it is among the highest in Europe. It may be a little tiring, but it will definitely be worth it: from up there you can see the whole of Lecco and beyond. You will not regret it.