Villa Balbianello: The Pride of Lake Como

July, 08 2016 ( Updated August, 09 2017)

Lake Como
Villa Balbianello is one of the defining features of the landscape on the western shore of Lake Como. Located on the tip of a wooded peninsula on Lake Como, the villa overlooks the Comacina Island on one side and the Tremezzina area on the other. Not very far from Lenno, the iconic villa which is popular for offering magnificent views of Lake Como and its terraced garden, has been one of the favourite locations of artists and filmmakers. Parts of the villa could strike as familiar to many because they have been featured in a number of Hollywood blockbusters.


The villa was built on the ruins of a Franciscan church by the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini at the end of the eighteenth century. Durini owned the neighbouring Villa Balbiano and bought the promontory to enlarge his estate. Thus, the name Villa Balbianello. After his death, the villa passed from one noble family to another until it was purchased by Guido Monzino in 1974. An entrepreneur who was also an avid explorer and mountaineer, Monzino gave shape to the way the villa and the garden stand today. He added a number of Italian and English artworks and furniture to the villa and other artefacts from all corners of the globe. The villa was given to FAI in 1988 to be run and maintained. The villa can now be booked for family and corporate events and is also open for guided tours. Entry to the villa is restricted for general public in the case of an event.


  • The villa is known for the amazing views of the lake that it offers. On the north, it overlooks the Tremezzina and the basin of the Comacina Island on the opposite side.
  • The famed garden of the villa is surrounded by water on three sides and is spread over more than an acre of land. The garden is famous for its horticultural precision and discipline. Monzino’s coat of arms featured a snake and therefore, one can find a number of plants pruned to give the shape of a snake. The garden is a combination of formal Italian and English style and overwhelms the visitors with its beauty.
  • There is a library on the premises but it does not bear anything from its 17th-century appearance and collection. Monzino replaced everything in the library with 19th-century English style furniture and a large collection of books on geography and mountaineering.
  • There is also a room dedicated to primitive art pieces that Monzino had collected from various parts of the world since the 1960s. This includes an incredible range of things, including an interesting selection of pieces of primary art (African cultures), pre-Columbian (Mesoamerican cultures: Olmecs, Mayas and Aztecs) and archaic (Cycladic art).
  • The museum built by Monzino in the attic is also a fascinating place where the things he collected on his expeditions to the North Pole and the first Italian ascent of the Mount Everest are displayed.

Useful Information:

How to Reach:
Access to the Villa is by foot from Lenno (about 1 km) which takes about 25 minutes or by taxi boat.

Entrance Fees (per person):
Only Garden
Adults: € 8
Children (4-14 years): € 4
Garden and Villa
Adults: € 17
Children (4-14 years): € 8.50
Guided tours are also available.

Opening Hours:
The villa is open every day except Mondays and Wednesdays and holidays.
Last entrance to the garden is at 17.15 and last admission to the villa is at 16.30 depending on availability.

There are wonderful accommodation facilities near the villa at great prices. Book a holiday home close to Villa Balbianello and enjoy a peaceful retreat on the shores of Lake Como

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