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With the rich history of Italy and the festive nature of its people, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of events and celebrations throughout the year even in the little village of Varenna.
The first weekend in July there is the Festa del Lago, which commemorates the arrival of refugees from the attack on Comacina Island in 1169. Encouraged by the fail of Milan to emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the people of Como invaded the Comacina Island (which was under Milanese control at the time) destroying fortresses, houses and churches, and forcing inhabitants to flee. Those who were able to escaped by boat to Varenna, where they were welcomed, fed, and sheltered. The people of Varenna celebrate the landing of the refugees with a costume parade reenactment in which dozens of escapees in illuminated rowboats arrive on the Riva Grande from across the lake. The welcoming of the refugees is followed by a fireworks display.
August sees the Polenta and Fish festival that is without a doubt full of mouth watering food. Nearby, in
Lake Como, also during August is a gondola competition that dates back hundreds of years.
In September, in nearby
Como there are two notable festivals. The Palio del Baradello is a Medieval pageant and competition that takes place the first week of this month. Also the Palio Remiero del Lario which is a rowing race.
Although January is not generally the tourist season, there is a fun festival worth coming for, the celebration of winter and its end! La Giubiana celebrates winter and the fact that it will soon be over with drinking and food and the "burning" of a legendary witch "La Giubiana".