You may recall a few weeks ago when I posted about the Lake Como boat tour we took on my birthday this included a stop at Villa del Balbianello. Next to Villa D’Este this may be my favorite Italian villa and hopefully by the end of the post you will see why. The only way you can get to Villa del Balbianello is by boat and the water entrance makes it feel even more grand. When you arrive you pay for a ticket to explore the grounds but the only way inside is via a guided tour. Even if the tour does not fit in your schedule it is worth a visit and fans of Star Wars, Casino Royale and Ocean’s Eleven may recognize some of the backgrounds from the movies. Here are some of my favorite shots of the stunning grounds and equistie gardens:
The Villa has a long and varied history like most of the grand houses on the Lake. It started out as a Franciscan monastery in the 1780’s and additions over the decades and centuries it became the grand villa it is today. The last owner was an Italian Count who truly lived his single life to the fullest and renovated the villa in the 70’s. Some of my favorite features were the library with it’s 4,000 books, the secrets staircase, the raw silk wall paper, and teh dressing room created by excavating into rock. The house is exactly as Count Guido Monzino left it – from his maps and cigars in his study to the mini- museum on his expeditions to Mount Everest and the North Pole on the top floor.
The properly is now owned by the National Trust of Italy and while the opening hours are a bit odd (it’s closed on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, holidays, and other key days) it is worth planning a visit. And in case you don’t believe me – check out the 3,000+ reviews that are five out of five starts on Trip Advisor.
Would you want to visit Villa del Balbianello?