Varenna has preserved its historic center made up of tiny lanes and streets all leading to the small port which offers spectacular lake views. The 4th century church, restored in the 17th and 18th centuries, has preserved Lombardo Gothic characteristics. The interior has three naves and a hulled vault. On the enormous façade there is a fresco of St Christopher. There are many villas to see but don't miss the Villa Monastero and Villa Isimbardi or dei Capresi which have beautiful grounds. These villas now belong to the government and are used for conferences and scientific conventions. Leonardo da Vinci described the strange phenomenon of a short river in Varenna in his Codice Atlantico
. The river gushes water white as milk out of a cave from spring to autumn, and seems to disappear for the rest of the year.