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Discover the villas that adorn the landscape of Lake Como

Villa del Balbianello

On the top of the Balbianello promontory, in a panoramic position, the villa was built for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini at the end of the 18th century, on the remains of an old Franciscan monastery. This location is spectacular for the views and peaceful atmosphere. The interiors of the villa are of particular interest, one can admire the collection of Chinese porcelain and pottery, a collection of pre-Columbian objects, French and English antiques and precious carpets all of which were left by the last owner of the villa, Guido Monzino who left the villa in donation to FAI, the Italian equivalent of the National Trust for Historic preservation, in 1988.

The villa can be rented for special private events and functions.

The villa and gardens are open from 11th March 2023 every day except Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00am till 5:00pm.

* The interiors of the villa can only be visited on appointment with a guide.

Villa Melzi

This neoclassical villa was built between 1808 and 1810 on a design by Giocondo Albertolli for Francesco Melzi d'Eril, close friend and political associate of Napoleon Bonaparte. Next to the villa is a small museum with a few archaeological remains and paintings.

The park was the first English style garden created on Lake Como and is full of exotic plants and trees. Towards the exit at the hamlet of Loppia is the family chapel.

Rockefeller Foundation

Villa Serbelloni Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio: the property extends over the promontory of Bellagio, above the historic centre in the area where there was once a 14th century castle. In 1533 the building was purchased by Vittorio Sfondrati who transformed the house and gardens. In 1788 it became property of the Serbelloni family from Milan. In 1870, it was used as a hotel before becoming a private home again.

In 1959 it was left in donation to the Rockefeller Foundation of New York who transformed it into a study and conference centre. The interiors of the villa cannot be visited.

Villa Erba

Situated within a vast park, the residence is one of the most sumptuous realisations of the late 19th century: in Neo-Mannerist style, it was built in 1894-98 to a design by Milanese architects Gian Battista Borsani and Angelo Savoldi. It is currently public property and the venue for important events.

Villa Pizzo

It is said that Giovanni Mugiasca purchased the Pizzo promontory in 1435, which included a few farm houses, and had a dwelling built there for a holiday resort.

The most important changes were made during the second half of the 17th century and at the beginning of the 18th century. Subsequent interventions, extensions and additions enriched this villa in Cernobbio with an Italian-style garden with terraces, fountain staircases and 17th-century statues. In the same period, a larger dock and a gatehouse were added.

The park still develops along the coastline today through an extensive network of avenues that run through it at various levels with lush vegetation; the cypress avenue is noteworthy. The area in front of the mansions is soberly decorated with festoons of tree-like roses.

The villa can only be visited by appointment.

Villa Gallia

This is the oldest of the Borgo Vico villas, built on the site of Paolo Giovio's 16th-century villa 'Il Museo'. Built in the early 17th century for the abbot Marco Gallio, it is built on a simple plan, with a large double-height central hall and two loggias on the ground floor, one facing the lake and the other the mountain.

Its designer is unknown, as are the artists who painted the frescoes in the hall (probably the Recchi brothers and Isidoro Bianchi). It is currently the seat of the Province of Como and, as such, cannot be visited.

Villa Olmo

Built for the Odescalchi family, it was begun to a design by Innocenzo Regazzoni, who was succeeded by the more famous Simone Cantoni. A grandiose example of Lombard neoclassicism, it has an elongated body (from which the two wings facing the lake were removed at the end of the 19th century).

The interior features refined decorations with stuccoes and frescoes: of particular note are the large double-height hall and the imposing three-storey atrium (late 19th century). The large garden has an Italian-style area, towards the shore, and an English-style area, at the back of the villa.

The park is open to the public while the interior of the villa cannot be visited.

Villa Saporiti or 'La Rotonda'

It was built at the end of the 18th century for the Marchesa Villani of Milan to a design by Leopoldo Pollack. It owes its name to the original elliptical hall that juts out towards the lake.

Inside, in addition to the hall decorated with stuccoes, the staircase by Luigi Cagnola is particularly interesting. It is currently the seat of the Province of Como and, as such, cannot be visited.

Villa Carlotta

Built in the first half of the 18th century by the Marquises Clerici, it was later modified during the 19th century to compete with the Villa Melzi opposite, becoming one of the most sumptuous villas on the Lario.

It houses a major collection of 19th-century works of art, including works by Thorvaldsen, Canova, Hayez and Marchesi. Surrounding it is the vast garden, famous for the spring blossoming of azaleas. Overlooking Via Regina is the chapel, designed by Giacomo Moraglia and rich in works of sculpture.

Villa Monastero - Villa Cipressi

The former women's monastery of S. Maria became a holiday residence between the late 16th and early 17th century, but the villa's current appearance is largely due to the 19th and 20th century owners who transformed it into a sumptuous villa of wide scope.

Of great value is the park, scenographically arranged along the shore, rich in rare tree species and decorative furnishings, including the Clemenza di Tito group by G.B. Comolli from 1830.A visit to the Villa Cipressi, built mainly between 1400 and 1800, is also recommended, located right next to the Villa Monastero.