Recently while staying in Bellagio, Lake Como, we decided to venture off and explore some of the the other towns that are off the lake. We caught a ferry which took us to one of the oldest recorded villages in Lake Como, the town of Lenno. It’s located on the west side of the lake.
Once the ferry arrived in Lenno we walked along the promenade towards Villa del Balbianello, in the direction of Sala Comacina, another town in the area. There are a few restaurants along the way if you want to stop for a bite to eat.
You can walk from the ferry stop up to the villa. We were told it took around 20 minutes, and it’s a challenging hike uphill not recommended for anyone who is not in good shape. We decided to catch a water taxi to the Villa instead, which was only an 8 minute picturesque boat ride.
The water taxi dropped us off at the bottom of these beautiful iron gates where a flight of steps rose up to the gardens.
Upon arrival at Villa de Balbianello we purchased our tickets, and we were asked if we wanted to join a guided tour. My recommendation is to take the tour. We wandered around the gardens, which are stunning and have a fantastic backdrop – the views over the lake are breathtaking. We were keen to find the parts of the garden which had been used in scenes from Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, and Casino Royale.
The tour explains the history of the villa, and how the site had been the home of Franciscan friars up until the 16th century. Then in the late 18th century Cardinal Durini built the Villa and the Loggia. The villa has been passed between many hands until it reached its last owner, a wealthy Italian businessman bachelor. He was an avid collector and explorer, so the villa is now a private museum full of the owner’s souvenirs from expeditions to the north pole and his art collections, as well as showcasing his wealthy lifestyle, his office, library, living quarters, etc.
This villa not only gives you one of the nicest views of the lake, but is full of interesting things to see: the gardens, the unique rooms, the art, the furniture, the secret passageways, the artifacts, and most interesting of all, the history behind each and every item inside.
If you’re visiting the Lake Como area, you have to take the time to go see Villa de Balbianello. It’s one of the most beautiful villas we have visited in Italy. The setting alone is magical. Add a house with amazing architectural details, interesting collections of art, and a fascinating history, and you have a recipe for magnificence.
**The villa is closed on both Monday and Wednesday. The rest of the week it’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.