High above the terracotta rooftops of Varenna, the imposing Castello di Vezio offers magnificent views over Lake Como. The 13th-century building was once part of a chain of early-warning medieval watchtowers. Get there by taking a steep cobblestone path (about a half-hour hike) from Olivedo (the northern end of Varenna) to Vezio. You can also take a path (around 40 minutes' walk) along the Sentiero Scabium, reached by taking the uphill ramp just opposite the Villa Monastero.
You can clamber up the stairs to check out temporary exhibitions – a scarily realistic collection of ghosts made out of old sheet fabric were populating the battlements at last visit. They were joined by the resident birds of prey. The castle hosts regular falconry displays in the afternoons – daily except Tuesdays and Fridays. Call for times (usually between 2.30pm and 4.30pm, depending on the day and season). There's also a small cafe.
A few steps from the castle, the tiny hamlet of Vezio is thought to have Etruscan origins. It's worth having a poke about its narrow lanes.