The Villa del Balbianello is a unique and iconic residence overlooking Lake Como in Italy. It is located on the tip of a small peninsula on the lake’s western shore, and is a popular wedding venue and tourist attraction.
The villa was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery. By the early 20th century, the buildings and grounds had fallen into a state of neglect. The American businessman, Butler Ames, bought and refurbished the villa, creating the elaborate terraced gardens that can be seen today. In 1974 it was purchased by the explorer, Guido Monzino, who filled it with collections of Chinese and African art, French furniture, and other artifacts from his expeditions.
The most scenic way to approach Villa del Balbianello is to catch the ferry to Lenno and walk over the hill to the property. This offers excellent views of the lake as well as over the towns of Tremezzo and Lenno. There’s a guided day tour that not only offers an insight into the history of the villa and makes the most of the views, but also explores the interior of the residence, which is just as impressive as the exterior.
Those who don’t wish to walk uphill to reach Villa del Balbianello can follow the signs near the parking area and take the boat directly there.