A visit to one of these grand lake side villas is top on my list when I have guests in town. Aside from the beauty of the villas themselves, you can meander through old growth gardens with rare species of trees and manicured flower beds. Each lake front property has its own unique surprises. The FB & Instagram "likes" will come flooding in. They are easily accessible by traghetto (ferryboat).
It's last owner was Guido Monzino, an explorer & adventurer. Entry onto the property is 10 euros but for an extra 10 euros you can have a guided tour inside the villa; visiting his study and attic room with collections from his many expeditions. Scenes from Star Wars and Casino Royale were filmed on the property's gorgeous grounds. Located in Tremezzina, there are two trails that lead up to the villa; a short one (20 mins) and a longer path (45 mins). Alternatively, you could go to the boat basin near the Lenno Lido (community pool) and catch a ride on a water taxi for 3.50 euro per person directly up to the villa's gate. The approach from the water is worth doing.
Closed Mondays & Wednesdays. Open from 10am - 6pm mid March to mid November. Last entry into the villa is at 4:30. www.visitfai.it/VilladelBalbianello
Villa Carlotta Museum
The villa was built in 1690 for the Clerici family whose fortune was made in the textile business. Later, it was purchased (in 1843) as a wedding present from Princes Marianne of the Netherlands to her daughter, Carlotta. The villa is famed for its sculptures, paintings & amazing varieties of azelias and rhododendrums, as well as its cedars & sequoias on the property. Located in the town of Tremezzo, it has its own traghetto (ferry) stop: "Tremezzo - villa Carlotta". Admission is 10 euros for an adult, 5 for students & free addmission for children under 6. Opening times vary, so it is best to check the website: VillaCarlotta.it
A beautiful neo classical villa built from 1808-1810, located in Bellagio. Named for it's owner Francesco Melzi, a duke and a Vice President of the Italian Republic under Napoleon. Most visitors to the lake go to Bellagio, and if you do it would be a shame to miss this spectacular property right next door. There are species of trees collected from all over the globe. The villa itself is not open to the public, but there are interesting architectural structures on site to see: a family chapel, grotto, moorish pavillion and many sculptures. Open from 9:30am - 6:30pm. Admission is 6.50 euro for adults, 4 euro for students. Free for children under 12.
Open from the end of March to the end of October. www.GiardinidiVillaMelzi.it