Beautiful Villas on the Western Shore of Lake Como
Cari amici, dear Lake Como friends. If you are interested in the wonderful old villas for which Lake Como is famous, I recommend you to drive from Como on the western shore road, Via Regina, towards Menaggio.
One of the most famous villas, the Villa Olmo, built in neo-classical style, can be found right at the beginning in Como, directly on the lake shore. Today The majestic building is used for various events and congresses. The park is open to the public.
A Number of Villas in a Small Place
Shortly after Como, in Cernobbio you could lose the overview of all the villas.
In this relatively small place you will inter alia find the magnificent Villa Erba, Villa Pizzo, Villa Il Sollievo, Villa Gastel and Villa d’Este. This list includes only the most important and famous of all the stately houses, most of which were built in the 18th century.
An exception is the impressive Villa d’Este. It was built in the 16th century and is now a luxury hotel.
Villas of Tremezzina
If you continue north on the Via Regina, you will soon see the Lavedo peninsula near Lenno with the imposing Villa del Balbianello. It offers an unforgettable sight, especially from the lake side. You can reach it with one of the taxi boats running between Lenno and the villa. The walk takes about 40 minutes.
A little further on, between Tremezzo and Cadenabbia, the bright white, magnificent facade of Villa Carlotta is reflected in the waters of Lake Como. Especially in the spring, when the azaleas and rhododendrons bloom, the park of the Carlotta offers an overwhelming sight.
Somewhat more hidden, between Cadenabbia and Griante, lies Villa Magherita Ricordi. Guiseppe Verdi once stayed as a guest and composed some arias of his opera La Traviata.
Also in Cadenabbia you will find the Villa Rosa and Villa La Collina, both holiday homes of the former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who loved Lake Como very much. Today the Villa La Collina is part of the Adenauer Foundation.
The bizarre Villa La Gaeta, which is secluded on a small headland between San Siro and Nobiallo, finishes off. Built in 1921 on a particularly scenic spot on the shores of Lake Como, this villa became world-famous through a scene in the James Bond movie Casino Royal. The villa is now divided into several private apartments, some of which are rented to holidaymakers.
Wonderful Gardens on Lake Como
Almost all villas are surrounded by spacious, beautiful gardens. At that time (18th century), the wealthy and predominantly noble owners of the magnificent estates tried to outdo each other in terms of the exoticism and blooms of their stately homes.
At that time, especially English gardening artists were in demand. Therefore, today you can still find some of Italy’s most beautiful English gardens around Lake Como.
Depending on the taste of the owners, statues, fountains, pavilions or mosaics were skillfully placed in selected locations within these gardens. Of course, each of these artworks was created by famous contemporary artists.
If you look at the villas with their magnificent gardens, you get an idea of how luxurious, elegant, and sophisticated the life was sthat took place in this exclusive environment.
I have listed only a few of the villas, because it is impossible to describe or even to visit any. Some of the houses are also not open to the public.
But three of the grandest properties of the West Bank, which incidentally is also called “Azalea Riviera”, should not be missed on a visit to Lake Como.
Stroll on a bright morning in May through the splendor of the azaleas and rhododendrons in the garden of Villa Carlotta.
Walk from the pier, past fragrant, blue-flowering wisteria, up to Villa Balbianello.
Or enjoy to be discreetly cosseted by kind members of the staff on the elegant terrace of the Villa d’Este.
I’m sure, then you’ll feel the whiff of the luxurious flair from long ago that is wafting towards you.
Tanti salute e a presto
Rosa Maria Lamberti