Villa Balbianello


When observing the natural landscape in which this wonderful villa is immersed, it is easy to understand why Angelo Maria Durini chose to retreat to such a fabulous place. Balbianello, an admirable example of the perfect blend between architecture and nature, is situated at the far end of the Lavedo peninsula that extends into Lake Como. Cardinal Durini acquired the promontory in 1787. He erected a sort of sanctuary on an area where once stood a small Franciscan convent, with the intention to create a peaceful hideaway devoted to contemplative meditation of arts, which can be summarized in one word: Arcadia. The library, the music salon, the lodge overlooking the Tremezzina, on one side, and the Comacina Island, on the other, renamed respectively gulf of Venus and gulf of Diana…
A fairy-tale setting that became a place of rendezvous for representatives of the intellectual society of the time, from Giuseppe Parini to Silvio Pellico, from Berchet to Manzoni. In 1919 the villa passed to the Ames family from America and acquired years later (in 1974) by count Monzino, an explorer, who furnished it with memorabilia from his great past exploits (renowned in particular for his expedition to the North Pole and for being the first Italian ever to climb Mount Everest). Several beautiful Flemish tapestries are also worth mentioning as well as the valuable eighteenth-century English furniture. Today it is owned by FAI (Italian Fund for the Environment) and is often used as a movie location: Star Wars, Casino Royale and other movies.

Left: some memorable scenes of Star Wars (2002) were shot here.
Right: the park viewed from the cliff.

Villa Balbianello and Bellagio.

On shipboard... (picture with "artistic effect").