Visit Lake Como Villas

The lake is well known for the attractive villas that have been built there since Roman times, when Pliny the Younger built the Comedia and the Tragedia resorts. Many villas on the lake shores have admirable gardens that benefit from the mild climate induced by the stabilizing presence of 22.5 cubic kilometres (5.4 cu mi) of lake water and can sustain many subtropical and Mediterranean plants.

Villa del Balbianello is located on top of a woody hill called Dosso di Lavedo. The latter stretches out into the water detaching from the western river of Lake Como, roughly in front of Bellagio.

Villa Olmo owes its name to a magnificent centenary elm tree, today no longer existent. Built according to the Neoclassical style, the villa was committed by Marquis Innocenzo Odescalchi, whose family had given birth to Pope Innocent XI.

Villa Monastero as an impressive sight from the lake which seems to step out of time. The sprawling neoclassical yet eclectic villa sits on the shore and commands attention

Villa Carlotta is a unique place of rare beauty, where natural masterpieces and incredible works of human intellect live together in perfect harmony into over 70000 square metres between stunning gardens and museums. 

Villa Mezi was built by Francesco Melzi d’Eril, duke of Lodi and vice-president of the Italian Republic at the time of Napoleon (1801-1803), like many other powerful Milanese families, built a huge formal residence with park in Bellagio. 

Villa Serbelloni is a suggestive monument which stand on the promontory of Bellagio where, according to the legend, Plinius the Younger owned a villa called Tragedia (tragedy). 

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Villa del Balbianello is one of the most beautiful gardens in the northern Italian Lake district, located on Lake Como and it occupies one of the most idyllic positions on the lake.

Its wooded peninsula juts out into the water almost opposite Bellagio, with breathtaking views up and down the lake.  Arriving from the water, it is nothing short of mythical and, climbing up the stairs from the water, you will see spectacular views of the lake in all directions. 

The panorama is best enjoyed from the open loggia built at the highest point by a discerning eighteenth-century Cardinal Angelo Durini.

The original name of the property was Dosso di Lavedo, as Balbianello’s rugged promontory is known, was to become a favorite subject for romantic artists who loved to paint the villa perched on top of its sheer, rocky outcrop with the snowy peaks of the Engadine mountains, shimmering far away across the water.  

Stendhal took a boat trip that passed in front of Balbianello, and a great admired scenery, which reminded him of Scotland. 

This garden is best visited and entered from the lake itself, since the garden is best viewed from the water.  It is not easy once you are on Lake Como to arrange water transportation and we do recommend doing so in advance and booking a tour.

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The Museum Botanical Garden of Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo is a place of rare beauty where masterpieces of nature and human ingenuity are stored and live together in harmony in 70,000 square meters of gardens and museum halls.

The history of Villa Carlotta says that the house was commissioned by the Marquis Giorgio Clerici in 1600. Impressive but simple, the building sits in a natural basin between Lake Como and the mountains, in front of a breathtaking scenery of Grignes and Bellagio, and is surrounded by a garden. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the villa saw its peak with the next owner, Gian Battista Sommariva, which enriched it with the art of Canova, Thorvaldsen and Hayez and transformed the garden into an extraordinary romantic park.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the property was donated to Charlotte of Prussia at the wedding with George II of Sachsen- Meiningen, who was fond of botany and strove for the enrichment of vast landscaped garden, today an historical and natural masterpiece.

The park of Villa Carlotta is especially beautiful in spring when over 150 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas bloom. However, any time of the year is suitable for a visit to this beautiful botanical garden, which among ancient varieties of camellias, cedar and redwood trees, huge plane trees and exotic plants offers visitors a very suggestive succession of environments.

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Villa Olmo is a magnificent late 18th-century neoclassical mansion overlooking the southwestern arm of Lake Como. Today, the former home of aristocrats and the wealthy elite is now a venue for important art exhibitions and other cultural activities. See works by great European artists and then enjoy a stroll through its beautiful baroque garden. 

The villa dates back to 1797, when Swiss architect Simon Cantoni built it for the wealthy Odescalchi family. Among the famous historical figures to have spent some time are the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the Italian military leader Giuseppe Garibaldi. 

The villa boasts a stylish and photogenic façade, dominated by a colonnaded entrance and grand columns. Look above the entrance to see a carved coat of arms and statues of gods. Step inside for the chance to see frescoed rooms decorated in opulent period furniture. They host a roster of temporary art exhibitions and celebrate the work of famed artists such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. Previous exhibitions have included artistic representations of the city of Como and works by Italian futurists such as Giorgio de Chirico. 

Take time to walk around the villa’s baroque garden, which stretches down to Lake Como. Note the symmetrical design of the manicured lawns and trees. The garden’s centerpiece is a fountain adorned with sculptures of mythical sea creatures and cherubs. 

Situated on the southwestern shores of Lake Como, Villa Olmo is a pleasant 20-minute walk from Piazza Cavour. Public buses stop nearby and metered parking is available on the street that leads to the entrance to the garden. The walk from Piazza Cavour runs along the waterfront and passes other major city attractions, including Volta Temple, a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta who invented the battery. 

The villa and garden are open every day except Monday and major holidays. There is an admission fee for the exhibitions and tours are also available. Entrance to the gardens is free. During the summer, combine your visit with an afternoon at the Lido di Villa Olmo, a beach club with two pools, a natural beach and boat rental.

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If you go to Bellagio, called “the Pearl of the Lake”, you should visit Villa Melzi and its garden. The mansion, that extends along the lake shore, was built in the 19th century by Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril and it has a neoclassic style, with simple features to highlight the surrounding landscape.

The mansion and its chapel, that is now an historical museum, witnessing the work of many artists that left their marks, exalting its beauty; Stahdhal also alluded to Villa Melzi in his writings.The garden and the beautiful “chiosco” on the lake, from where you can see Comacina Island, make this villa unique.

Walking under the plane trees’ way up to the suggestive terrace in front of the mansion with its historical statues. Be enchanted by the colours and the parfumes of flowers and trees during the summertime. Furthermore at the end of your itinerary, be amazed by the colours of the trees that blend with the water of the small lake in the Oriental Gardens; you will not be able to recognise the two elements.

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Villa Monastero is a magnificent late 18th-century neoclassical mansion overlooking the southwestern arm of Lake Como. Today, the former home of aristocrats and the wealthy elite is now a venue for important art exhibitions and other cultural activities. See works by great European artists and then enjoy a stroll through its beautiful baroque garden. Villa Monastero, a property of the Province of Lecco, is one of the most interesting attractions of our territory thanks to its strategic location, its history, its landscape, its environment and for the different services which it can offer. The House Museum, the historical and noble residence, is at its core: in the year 2004 Villa Monastero was given the title of “Casa Museo” by the Lombardy Region and since then its fourteen rooms can be visited following a charming itinerary.

Villa Monastero is also an international Conference Centre where, in the year 1954, the Nobel prize winner Enrico Fermi held some lessons. The Villa offers rooms and facilities to hold meetings, conferences, seminars, training activities, workshops and cultural events in an unforgettable, beautiful setting.

Every year the Italian Society of Physics organizes its prestigious courses at the Villa Monastero. The Villa is surrounded by a spectacular and fascinating botanical Garden which extends for two kilometres from Varenna to Fiumelatte; it is visited yearly by about 80.000 people and offers recreation and learning opportunities thanks to the presence of many botanical species, both indigenous and exotic.  

In the Villa Monastero it is possible to develop different learning activities like educational itineraries, laboratories and recreational activities for school children both in the Garden and in the House Museum.

In the Villa you can also find an Exhibition room specifically equipped to house temporary exhibitions. 

The beauty of Villa Monastero’s background is the ideal setting for a wedding location and for photographic shootings both for fashion columns and for touristic magazines.

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Villa Serbelloni has a very ancient history, already property of the Sfondrati family in 1566, passed on to be property of Count Alessandro Serbelloni to whom he dedicated his soul and body. The external aspect, extensive but with simple lines, was not changed; the inside was carefully decorated, from the vaulted and coffered ceilings, to the paintings and pieces of art. The Duke Serbelloni, however, was more interested in the immense park than the villa, and spending exorbitant figures, had tracks suitable for vehicles, driveways, and paths build for an extension of nearly 18 km.

The Duke died in Bellagio, in 1826, the villa was passed onto his children, Giovan Battista and Ferdinando, and progressively fell into disuse after the death of them and their heirs. In 1870 they rented the property to Antonio Mella who made it an annex of the Great Britain Hotel; in the end, in 1907 they sold it to a Swiss company who turned it into Albergo Serbelloni. The hotel was purchased by Princess Ella Walker who left it as an inheritance in 1959 to the Rockefeller foundation.

Today the villa is used as a place to stay and a meeting place for scholars. Many were the illustrious guests who stayed in the villa, we can remember when it was still the property of the Sfonderati family: Emperor Massimiliano I, Leonardo da Vinci, Lodovico the Moor, Bianca Sforza, and Cardinal Borromeo. In the 19 th century the rank of guests was impressive: Pellico, Moroncelli, Emperor Francesco I, Queen Vittoria, Kaiser Guglielmo, Umberto I; writers such as Manzoni, Grossi, Pindemonte.

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