is the destination
in our visiting tour on Lake Como. A list of destinations is available, each with an audioguide. We travel northbound, from Como to Piona.
tel. [+39] 0344 56110
Close to Lenno, the Villa del Balbianello is an absolute gem which more than merits a detour to its slightly out-of-the-way location. It occupies its own headland, about 800 metres from Lenno's square and the church. If you plan to walk there, follow the signs to a path which starts from the lakeside and then proceeds through woods, on a slightly higher level, to the gates of the villa itself.
The headland marks the southern end of the Tremezzina part of the lake, where the vegetation is at its most luxuriant.
On certain days (Thursdays and Fridays) you can't enter the villa/gardens from the path but have to take a taxi-style boat from a jetty on the south side of Lenno (at the jetty you'll find a mobile phone number to ring) and so you enter from the lakeside, getting some great views from the lake during the boat ride.
The last private owner of the Villa del Balbianello
was the explorer Guido Monzino, famous for the many mountaineering expeditions he organized in the mid-1900s. He bequeathed it all to the FAI
(Fondo Ambiente Italiano, a trust that works to preserve Italy's heritage sites) in 1988.
The Villa was built for Cardinal Durini at the end of the 18th century. The complex is comprised of two buildings, a tiny harbour and a small church, a remnant of an old Franciscan monastery that once stood on this site.
Visible in the house are memorabilia of Monzino's adventurous life, and his 18th-century English and French furnishings. There is also a small museum with a collection of Chinese, African and pre-Columbian objets d'art. Tours of the villa's interiors can be made only by arrangement, for parties of visitors.
However, the real work of art is the exquisitely manicured garden
, with its lawns, statuary and flowering shrubs. From its highest point visitors can enjoy a wonderful panorama of the lake.