Lakeshore Villas – Lago di Como
Amongst the dark green forested hills along the lakeshore of Lago di Como, fabulous Villas dot the skyline. During my stay in Bellagio I visited two historical waterfront Villas on Lago di Como. The first villa,Villa Melzi, and the second,Villa Carlotta on the lakeshore at Tremezzo, a short ferry ride from Bellagio.
Villas fit for a Duke or a Marquis – About Villa Melzi
Francesco Melzi d’Eril, a distinguished statesmen, became Vice president of the Italian Republic in 1802, later appointed Grand Chancellor of the Italian Kingdom (1805-1815). Melzi was a friend and political associate of Napoleon Bonaparte who made him Duke of Lodi.
In keeping with his position, Melzi built himself a magnificent Villa on the lakeshore at Lago di Como as his summer residence. A renowned architect of the time, Giocondo Albertolli, drew up the plans for the the villas exterior and interior design. Albertolli spent five years overseeing the project. The Villa, completed by 1810 stood as one of the most outstanding works of neo-classical architecture in Lombardy. The interior, decorated in typical neo-classical style very lavish with gilding, frescoes, fine furniture, especially designed to complement the decor, tapestries, paintings and sculptures.
Spectacular English Garden on the lakeshore at Bellagio
Work on the vast gardens surrounding Villa Melzi continued for many years and were the very first example of English gardens in the Lake Como region. The lawns and gardens stretched as far as the eye could see, down to the lakeshore of Lago di Como. The garden design follows a very elaborate scheme to create an illusion of distance and greater expanse of space then really existed. A design creating a gentle flow of undulating parkland, with garden beds specifically designed to enhance the area. Scattered throughout the gardens are many statues and monuments which add to its charm and complements the Neo-classical style of the Villa. An artificial grotto houses a funerary urn from Rome, dating from the 3rd century BC. A distinctive Moorish style lookout stands on the lakeshore; magnificent flowering shrubs such as azaleas, camellias and huge rhododendrons add to the spectacular expanse of parkland.
Important guests at the Villas
In keeping with the families position, many prominent people of the time visited the Villa Melzi as guests. The guest list included the Empress of Russia, Maria Federovna; the Austrian Emperor Francis I, Emperor Ferdinand and his consort, French author, Stendhal, composer Franz Liszt; Umberto and Margherita di Savoia, heirs to the Italian throne, all distinguished guests at the Villa during the 1800’s. Many other Villas were also entertaining important and famous guests. The influx of visitors during this time proved a very prosperous period for Bellagio.
Next to the Villa you will find a Museum in the Orangery. Displayed in the Museum, exhibits of precious works of art, Napoleonic relics, renaissance frescoes and archeological remains.
Explore the gardens of the fabulous Villas on Lago di Como
Take a stroll through the gardens at Villa Melzi, explore the grounds, a flowing stream, a little stone henge or rock seating area, an intriguing grotto. Admire the rich colors of the rhododendrons and azaleas, the delicate leaves of the red maples contrasted against dark green feathery pines; so much contrast in color and texture in one garden. Follow the little pathway down to the quaint Moorish blue roofed lookout on the lakeshore. Enjoy the silky glistening blue surface of Lake Como from the lookout. This is such a beautiful place.
The Villa is not open to the public.
The gardens and museum are open 9.30am to 6.30pm from April to October. Admission: € 6 per day.
Next….. Fabulous Villas on the Lakeshore – Part 2 – Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo on Lago di Como
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