My Italian Grand Tour: Lake Como


Hello Everyone from Italy! I am now in Bellagio, Lake Como starting a Gardens & Villas tour with Martin Randall Travel (MRT). The weather was mild and warm, with misty mornings across the lake. I visited Lake Como many years ago, in another life, during a work/supplier meeting. I always remembered a wonderful Villa I saw on a boat trip then that perched on a peninsula strutting out onto Lake Como.  This time I got to visit it – Villa Balbianello…

Our first day began walking from Bellagio to the Villa Melzi, built in 1810 for Francesco Melzi d’Eril, a politician who was briefly vice-president of the republic under Napoleon’s reign.  It was a lovely garden with many terraced lawn areas, bordering the lake and looking directly across to the Villa Carlotta. The current owner has made many planting additions, particularly with Japanese influence.

Villa Melzi
Gondola along the lake at Villa Melzi
Villa Melzi

Bellagio is situated on the promontory of the 3 branches of lake. We climbed up to the beautiful garden path of Villa Serbelloni to see the wonderful vista of the 3 branches. Villa Serbelloni was built in 1539 by Count Francesco Sfondrati. It was once thought to the site where Pliny the Younger penned his many letters; including those about the Vesuvius eruption over Pompeii. It is now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation of NY as an international study centre.

A pond in the shape of Lake Como
View from above – very hazy though!

A short boat ride across from Bellagio, we visited Villa Carlotta; named after Duchess of Sachsen-Meiningen, who was given it as a “wedding present” in 1842. The house has an impressive entrance and wonderful woodland gardens. However, I think spring would be a better time to visit to enjoy the extensive azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias.

Villa Carlotta
Villa Carlotta

Our final visit on Lake Como was my favourite place – Villa Balbianello. You may recognise it from many movies, including “A Month by the Lake”; Casino Royale (when JB was recuperating) or even Star Wars 2 (The wedding scene at the end)!. The site was originally developed by Cardinal Durini in 1787. However, the present garden and house was developed in 1974 by Count Guido Monzino. He died in 1988, after an adventurous life as an explorer; going to the north Pole, climbing Mt. Everest – you get the picture …  His house is full of his memorabilia and is fascinating place to visit, along with the magnificent gardens and views.

Villa Balbianello
Loggia @ Villa Balbianello
 jetty @ Villa Balbianello


I took so many photos, it was so hard to reduce them down to just a few. So I hope these give you a little of taste.

Next stop was more villas in Lombardy on the way to Lake Maggiore.

2 thoughts on “My Italian Grand Tour: Lake Como”

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