Villa del Balbianello

Five amazing historic villas to visit on Lake Como

To make your stay in Ronco dell’Abate even more special, you can not miss the tour of the wonderful villas speaking about magnificent past in which the Italian and European nobility, as well as writers and artists of various kinds, they used to spend their holidays by the lake.

Villas in history
From the time of the ancient Romans, passing through the Renaissance up to the nobility of the late nineteenth century, the historic villas on Lake Como and their fantastic gardens have always been very coveted places to spend an exclusive holiday, where worldliness and nature could find their point of balance.
Some of these suggestive historic houses are private and inhabited by the owners, jealous of their privacy and to preserve such a precious asset, and therefore they can not be visited inside but only admired at a distance.
Several others, some of the real gems of neoclassical architecture, can be visited and usable by the public and in this article we will present our list of those that are worth visiting, with some valuable information.

How to reach the villas
Consider dedicating at least one day to visit the historic houses on Lake Como and decide if you prefer to do it with the public ferry that has its stations near the villas, or driving along the scenic road that runs along the lake or finally enjoy a private cruise accompanied by a guide.
We would like to recommend this solution if you do not want to be surprised and lose all the information, stories and local legends, details of architectural projects.
Looking on the web you can find personalized tours with guide that occasionally appear with new interesting proposals, search on Google and find out which one is more for you or contact the concierge Ronco dell’Abate, who will be happy to help you.
Here is our list of five famous historic houses that you absolutely can not miss, with some useful first information about it to make your visit more enjoyable.

Villa Melzi
The first villa on our list is Villa Melzi, built at the beginning of the 19th century by Count Melzi d’Eril, with its estate extending along the lake shore between the ancient port of Loppia and Bellagio.
The villa is not open to the public, instead you can visit the beautiful gardens with their great botanical heritage, including rare oriental plants and a bamboo forest. It is also possible to visit the charming family chapel, where the tomb of the first owner of the villa is located, finished in neoclassical style and decorated with magnificent stuccoes.
The public opening of the gardens for the year 2018 is scheduled from 24 March to 31 October and the stop for the public ferry to get off is Bellagio.

Villa Serbelloni
Continuing to turn around the promontory of Bellagio, there is Villa Serbelloni, which overlooks the lake from its green hills.
The house, originally built in the fifteenth century, belonged to several nobles before becoming part of the Rockefeller Foundation in the fifties with the aim of promoting philanthropic activities internationally.
It has an amazing location that dominates the two branches of the lake and offers about 18 kilometers of trails in the extraordinary botanical gardens.
Illustrious figures, both in the past and nowadays, have contributed to make Villa Serbelloni a center of intellectual and artistic activity: from Leonardo da Vinci to Queen Victoria up to leading artists, scientists and contemporary thinkers.
From March to November, guided tours of the park are available from 11am to 3.30pm.

Villa Monastero
On the opposite bank, south of Varenna, we can already see Villa Monastero, located on the bank with its arched windows and the portico.
Villa Monastero also has a fascinating history: initially built as a convent for the nuns surviving the fires that devastated the Comacina Island, it became a lakeside residence in the 16th century for the business man who were enriched thanks to the trade in minerals.
After the German entrepreneur Walter Kees bought the villa in the early twentieth century, the additions to the original construction in an eclectic combination of Neo-baroque, Neo-classical and Belle Époque style have gradually become the main distinguishing mark of the villa.
The last owner, a famous patron of the sciences, continued to cultivate exotic species on the terraces of the magnificent botanical gardens.
The villa is open to the public and welcomes numerous scientific conferences.

Villa Carlotta
Continuing our itinerary towards the south, Villa Carlotta is announced for its prominent location on the shore of the lake.
This palace, located in the district of Tremezzo and dating back to the late seventeenth century, was a popular attraction for the rich young European participating in the Grand Tour, the long journey in continental Europe to perfect the their knowledge, which could last from a few months to several years, and usually had Italy as its destination.
At its enchanting peak when the centennial rhododendrons are blooming, the garden presents an incomparable fusion of natural beauty and works of art created by the hand of man with mythological sculptures, exotic plants and panoramic views of the lake that compete for attention at every corner.
Do not miss the small museum of agricultural tools made in a lovely restored greenhouse, a memory of generations of farmers and gardeners who have worked with great commitment and dedication to make the garden the wonder that is still today.

Ronco dell’Abate
Ronco dell’Abate has created a package designed just for fans of historic villas and gardens. You can find it on our site to the page special offers, take a look!