Fabulous Villas on the Lakeshore – Lago di Como – Part 1

Villa-Melzi-Moorish Lookout-Famous Villas lakeshore Lago di Como

Moorish Lookout-Fabulous Villas lakeshore Lago di Como

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.

Villa-Melzi-Garden Grottoe-Famous villas lakeshore Lago di Como

Villa-Melzi- fabulous gardens -Famous villas lakeshore Lago di Como

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.

Villa-Melzi-tranquil pond waters in gardens - famous shoreline Villas Lago di Como

Villa-Melzi Gardens -tranquil waters,maples and pines. Fabulous Villas  lakeshore, Lago di Como

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.

Villa Melzi- Garden monument Dante and Beatrice sculpted by Giovan Battista Comolli

Villa Melzi- Garden monument Dante and Beatrice sculpted by Giovani Battista Comolli 

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.

Fabulous Villas- Villa-Melzi-silken-blue-water of Lago di Como on the lakeshore

Fabulous Villas- Villa-Melzi-silken-blue-water of Lago di Como on the lakeshore

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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