The Villa del Balbianello is a famous Lake Como villa in the comune of Lenno (province of Como in Lombardy region), Italy, overlooking Lake Como. It is located on the tip of a small wooded Lavedo peninsula on the western shore of the south-west branch of Lake Como, not far from the Isola Comacina and is famous for its elaborate terraced gardens.
The Villa del Balbianello was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery for the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini.He created the double-sided loggia, a true architectural invention, and he did much to create the magical atmosphere that attracted many personalities from the world of art and literature.Important personalities have stayed at Villa del Balbianello, such as Abbot Giuseppe Parini, who dedicated his poem “Gratitude” to Cardinal Durini, and Silvio Pellico who spent the last night therebefore being arrested, on 13 October 1820.
According to legend, coffee was served for the first time in Lombardy at one of the literary-artistic circles that met in the Villa del Balbianello.
More recently, the Villa‘s gardens have been used, like other locations on Lake Como, as a film set. In 2000, director George Lucas chose the loggia and gardens as a setting for the second episode of the Star Wars series.
The interiors of the Villa del Balbianello are open to visits, and they include an extensive collection of Chinese, Precolumbian and African art gathered by explorer Monzino. He also collected the fine 18th and 19th-century French and English furniture, an important collection of prints depicting Lake Como, and one of the rarest collections of paintings on glass.
Without doubt, the true masterpiece at the Villa del Balbianello consists of its gardens, which were refurbished by Guido Monzino in the 1970s, and which now offer a rare example of a panoramic viewpoint over the lake, with much exceptional plant life.
It began life as a traditional Italian-style garden, with some geometrically-arranged areas, but it inevitably reverted to a more natural scenario as a result of the layout of the site and the presence of outcrops of rock.
The promontory, which drops steeply into the water, is covered by plane trees, magnolias, cypresses, holm oaks and wisteria, as well as cyclamens, rhododendron, snowdrops and azaleas.
Villa del Balbianello Lake Como
This lovely Villa, which is now owned by heritage foundation FAI.
From 14 March to 15 November: 10:00am-6:00pm
Open every day except for Mondays and Wednesdays that are not public holidays (on Monday 1 June, it will be open for the “Republic Day” holiday period).
Entrance to the garden is permitted up to half an hour before closing time.
Entrance to the Villa del Balbianello itself is permitted up until a time that depends according to the number of visitors.