Known for its breathtaking natural scenery, upscale villages, and elegant villas, Lake Como in Northern Italy is home to some of the most beautiful and historic luxury residences in Europe.
If you're looking for a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous on Lake Como, a visit to one of these 5 iconic historic villas is a must.
Villa del Balbianello
Perched on the tip of a wooded peninsula overlooking Lake Como, the 18th century Villa del Balbianello boasts elaborate terraced gardens and an intricate facade reflecting various architectural influences from its rich history.
Having once served as a monastery and a privately owned residence of Italian Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, the picturesque villa was famously used as a filming location in Star Wars and James Bond films. The elaborate terraced gardens, still abundantly flourishing today, highlight the villa's breathtaking panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Originally built in 1690 as a wedding gift for a princess of the influential German Saxe-Meiningen dynasty, Villa Carlotta is a stunning historic villa and botanical garden located in Tremezzo on Lake Como.
The villa's diverse architecture reflects styles from different eras, from the early Baroque facade to its neoclassical interiors and English Romantic gardens. Some of its highlights include its picturesque Italianate garden adorned with ancient sculptures, fountains, and rare plants, as well as its world-renowned art collection featuring paintings and sculptures from Italian masters like Canova.
Dating back to 1568, the grand Villa D'Este in Cernobbio was originally built as a summer residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio. Boasting sprawling gardens and intricate Renaissance-style architecture, the villa still retains much of its original splendor today. Its grounds contain over 500 species of plant life, extravagant fountains adorned with sculpted figures, and a stunning pool area overlooking Lake Como.
The interior of the villa is elaborately decorated with painted ceilings, wood-paneled walls, and a magnificent ballroom. Villa D'Este has played host to aristocrats and celebrities over the centuries.
Built in the early 19th century for one of Napoleon's advisors, the Villa Melzi features an elegant Empire-style facade and English Romantic gardens studded with Greek and Roman sculptures. The villa's lush gardens contain rare tree specimens, exotic plants, water features, and winding footpaths overlooking the lake.
The interiors feature neoclassical decor, intimate family portraits, carved-wood furnishings, and a chapel covered in 14th century frescoes. The villa provides an intimate glimpse into aristocratic life in the Villa Melzi era.
Perched on a promontory on the shores of Lake Como, the grand 16th century Villa Serbelloni has a rich history having once been owned by the Sfondrati family, a duke of Milan, and even Pliny the Younger in ancient times.
The villa is considered a fine example of neoclassical architecture, with its symmetrical facade and grand interior spaces. The lavish interiors contain exquisite furnishings, frescoed ceilings, and decor from different eras. The sprawling terraced gardens offer spectacular views of the lake and Bellagio village.
With their captivating settings, rich histories, breathtaking architecture and gardens, these 5 iconic villas give a captivating glimpse into Lake Como's glamorous past. A visit to any of these historic gems transports you to a world of aristocratic grandeur and the charm of a bygone era on one of Italy's most beautiful lakes.
Whether you fantasize about living like 19th century royalty or just want to experience these villas' magical ambiance, put these historic Lake Como villas on your must-see list!
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