While cruising on Lake Como it is fun and interesting to spot the beautiful Italian villas dotted along the 28 mile length of the lake. Of course one of the most famous villas, which we did not see, is the one belonging to George Clooney. Last I heard he wanted to sell it because it was becoming too well known and the lack of privacy. Well if you were waiting for an invitation from George that did not come and you want to see an Italian Villa along the lake what are you to do? Fear not as there are other villas to see and we visited two that are open to the public. The first being Villa del Balbianello near Tremizzina.
The above photo of the villa from the website for the Italian National Trust – eng.fondoambiete.it Showing it’s fantastic location on it’s own peninsula with panoramic views of the lake. If you are a member of the English National Trust you receive a discount on your entry fee.
One way of reaching the villa is by climbing the gradually ascending path that winds through the adjoining woods. Another option is by boat, where you can arrive via the dock in front of the villa. Either way you will need to do a bit of uphill walking to get to the loggia at the top of the property, but it is well worth the effort when you see the views of the landscaped gardens and lake beyond.
The villa was originally built in the late 1700’s as a quiet summer residence for Cardinal During.
The romantic grounds where statues line the path down to the waterfront.
The stone pots of geraniums added a bit of brightness on the rainy day we visited.
At the top of the property is the loggia which is a stunning focal point. The property went through various ownership and transitions and even was abandoned for 39 years. In 1919 it was purchased by an American general, Butler Ames who had important renovations carried out to preserve the intricate details. The property lastly became owned by a businessman and world explorer from Milan, Guido Monzino. He further restored and personalised the villa to showcase many of his priceless collections acquired during his expeditions. The interiors can be viewed through a guided tour and I would definitely recommend taking the tour. It is a beautiful property with many interesting stories and an attention to detail that is amazing.
The loggia at the top of the property contains the library and the map room. The rest of the house is connected through a private stairway that leads from the loggia. Of course the winding ivy and vines are enchanting.
This is a popular location for weddings and there was a photo shoot of a bride and groom happening when we visited. You can see them going down the stairs on the left. On the right the two original towers of the chapel.
The property was left by Mr. Monzino to the National Trust of Italy per his wishes and so now it can be enjoyed by many.
Further up the lake you will find another enchanting property, Villa Carlotta. To me this elaborate staircase and fountain in the front with the landscaping was the highlight of the property. It definitely makes an entrance statement.
A flower lined path along the lake front, just part of the extensive grounds and gardens.
Here is some more information about the villa from the brochure:
Villa Carlotta is a place of rare beauty, where masterpieces of nature and art live together in perfect harmony in over 70,000 square meters of garden and museum. The beautiful villa was built at the end of the 17th century in a natural basin between lakes and mountains, facing the dolomitic Grignas and the peninsula of Bellagio. The architect created for the Clericis – a noble and powerful Milanese family – an important but sober building, with an Italian garden decorated with sculptures, stairs and fountains. In 1801 Gian Battista Sommariva, famous politician, businessman and patron of the arts, bought the villa. Thanks to him, the villa attained the summit of its splendour and became one of the most important halting-place of the Grand Tour with its collection of art and its fascinating romantic garden. In the second half of the century Princess Marianne of Nassau bought the villa and gave it as a present to her daughter Carlotta on occasion of her wedding with Georg ll of Saxe-Meiningen. George was passionate about botany and made a lot of improvements and new additions to the park that became more and more famous for its botanical richness and the rhododendrons and azaleas spring flowering.
The outstanding view of the entrance and the lake from the second floor balcony.
Just one section of the garden that was in full bloom on the hillside.
A topiary pair with a view of the lake and mountains.
And now my friends, hopefully you have seen why Lake Como is considered one of the most beautiful and romantic locations in the world, with it’s dramatic, yet peaceful setting amongst the mountains. The ever changing light and scenery has captivated many visitors for ages and will continue to do so for many years to come.