Villas of Lake Como
Villa Balbianello in Lenno: 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 15th March 2008 till 16th November 2008 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 in Bellagio: 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.
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 in Cernobbio (Via Regina): set in a large park, this is one of the best of late 19th century architecture. Built between 1894 and 1898 on a design by the Milanese architects Gian Battista Borsni and Angelo Savoldi. It is now property of Cernobbio's Town Hall.The villa is used as a location for special events.
Opening hours of the park:
October to March: from 10:00am till 4:00pm
April to September: from 10:00am till 6:00pm
Villa Pizzo Cernobbio: Giovanni Muggiasca purchased the farmland on the Pizzo promontory in 1435 with the intention of building himself a home. The most important changes to the villa were made during the second half of the 17th century through to the beginning of the 18th century. over the years, the subsequent extensions and additions have given the house and garden a particular shape with its terraces, fountain stairways and statues. An extensive network of paths cross at various levels through the park that extends along the coastline. The area in front of the various buildings is gracefully decorated with garlands of roses and trees.
The gardens can only be visited by appointment.
Villa Gallia in Como: the oldest of the villas in the Borgo Vico area on the outskirts of Como. Built for the Abbot Marco Gallio on the site of Paolo Giovio's sixteenth-century villa called "The Museum", it dates back to the beginning of the seventeenth century. It has a simple layout, with a large central hall and two loggias on the ground floor, one facing the lake and the other facing the mountain. The name of architect who designed the villa remains unknown as do the names the artists who painted the frescoes in the hall although they have been attributed to the Recchi brothers and Isidoro Bianchi. This building is also currently property of Como's County Government offices so is not open to the public.
Villa Olmo in Como (via S. Cantoni): built for the Odescalchi family, on a design by Innocenzo Ragazzoni followed by the project of the more famous Simone Cantoni. A perfect example of the Lombard neoclassical style, it is rectangular shaped (at the end of the 19th century, two wings extending towards the lake were demolished).The interior boasts fine stucco works and frescoes. Of particular interest are the Great Hall with its high ceilings and the imposing late 19th century three-storey entrance hall. The garden in front of the villa overlooking the lake is a formal Italian style garden whilst at the back of the villa one finds the romantic English style garden.
The park is open to visitors. The interior of the villa is not open to the public.
Villa Saporiti or “La Rotonda”
Villa Saporiti or "La Rotonda" in Como (Via Borgo Vico): built at the end of the eighteenth century for the marquis Villani of Milani on a design by Leopoldo Pollack. It owes its name to the original elliptical hall that protrudes towards the lake. The interiors boast a hall decorated with stucco and a particularly interesting staircase, work of Luigi Cagnola. It is currently the head quarters of the province of Como's government offices and so is not open to the public.
Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo: built in the first half of the eighteenth century for Marquis Giorgio Clerici from Milan, various improvements were made a century later when the owner at the time tried to keep up with the "Jones'" across the shores at Villa Melzi. It houses a collection of important 19th century works of art by Thorvalsden, Canova and Hayez. The spectacular gardens are particularly beautiful in springtime when the many varieties of azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower. The family chapel on the roadside was designed by Gicaomo Moraglia.
Villa Monastero – Villa Cipressi
Villa Monastero - Villa Cipressi in Varenna: originally a convent for nuns, the Villa Monastero became a private residence between the late 16th and early 17th century. The villa's current appearance dates back to the late 18th and early 19th century. The gardens surrounding the villa are spectacular and full of rare species of plants and trees. Also recommended is a visit of the gardens at Villa Cipressi, next door to the Villa Monastero and today a hotel.