Varenna is one of my favourite places in Italy outside of Milan, It's one of the towns on Lake Como. It may sound funny, considering it's a tiny little place of only 859 inhabitants according to Wikipedia - so it's pretty much the complete opposite of Milan! And that's one of the reasons why I like it so much, the peace and calm of the place.
It takes just over an hour to get to Varenna on the train from Milan (no changes), and a single 2nd class ticket will cost you 5.10 euro. When you arrive walk down the hill to reach the lake, turn right and you will enter Varenna. Every time when I've got into Varenna there's been a few market stalls by the side of the lake as I walk into the town. There's a scenic path built around the side of the lake, above the water, that essentially takes you from one side of the town to the other.
There aren't many places to eat in Varenna, being so small. There are a few bars next to where the ferry stops not long after you've entered the town, and on the other side there are a few places to eat. There's also a gelateria with possibly the best seating arrangement I've ever seen in a place where you can eat - pillows scattered on stone steps next to the shop.
I love sitting by the side of the lake, soaking up the view - and the clean air! It's always so peaceful there. Even in the middle of summer, not many tourists seem to go there, though going on the train you do see a fair few people coming and going with cases and backpacks. I highly recommend it though, you only need a few hours to have a walk around the place, but for me it's an overlooked gem of the lake.