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Visiting villas and gardens around Lake Como

Visiting villas and gardens around Lake Como

Apr 11th, 2008, 01:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Julia, your photos are lovely. I took some of the same shots -- it's as if we were standing in the same exact spots.

I visited Villa Cipressi and Villa Monestaro one morning. They are next to each other and easy to walk from one to the other. I was there in May and fortunate that the wisteria was out. I was a bit too early, however, for some of the urns to be potted.

Also visited Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello. The tour at Balbianello was well worth it.

You can view my photos (and portion of trip report) at:

luvtotravel is offline  
Apr 11th, 2008, 05:03 AM
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Dee_Dee is offline  
Apr 12th, 2008, 07:28 PM
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Hi Diane --

Thanks for the link to your trip report! We are also going to Tuscany, so I'm looking forward to diving into it. =)

Thanks again!
hlocke1 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2008, 09:52 AM
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Diane, thanks for the trip report and photos. Lovely! I really like the format you used.

julia1 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2008, 05:20 AM
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I will be in Varenna in a couple of weeks and can't wait to go to as many of these gardens as possible. Thank you so much for the advice.

I would like to know the best way to get to some of these gardens from Varenna.

Balbianello and Carlotta.

Cipresse and Monastero are both in Varenna, correct?

Thank you so much for your help.

bashamj is offline  
Apr 25th, 2008, 06:20 AM
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Our first trip to Bellagio, we struck out with Balbianello. You can take a boat to Lecco and walk to the Villa (a pretty but nearly half hour walk through the woods) or hire a private little boat at Lecco to take you around the peninsula to the villa. But be aware, it seems the Villa is often closed (as it was when we got there) and sometimes you can't go inside. On our second trip to Bellagio, we joined a small group of about 12 on a private boat leaving Bellagio daily near the regular boats. It was a nice lake trip, pointing out some other smaller and private villas along the way, and then once at the Villa, we were given a detailed tour of the grounds and the house. We also had plenty of time to stroll on our own and take tons of pictures before returning. It certainly was the "easiest" way to do the trip, and although I normally shun tours, this one was perfect and better than doing it on our own.

There are boats from Bellagio that go right to Villa Carlotta. Or you can take one from Varenna, simply ask at the boat landing.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 25th, 2008, 08:42 AM
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Hi Patrick,

That is great advice about the private boat tour to Balbianello. I will be in Bellagio for three days next week, and would like to do that.

A couple of questions, if you don't mind. Do you remember the price, and do you have to book in advance, or is it a walk up kind of thing?

gracie04 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2008, 09:23 AM
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We did book a day in advance, but as we were waiting to go, one couple walked up and they still had several places available. That was in mid June.

The trip including the boat and the tour was 42 euro each.

The boat was between the regular boat landing (not the ferry) and the Metropole Hotel. There was a rather small sign there about the trip.

Villa Balbianello is truly the most beautiful place on Lake Como in my opinion. That's why it is so often used in films (the newest Casino Royale it was the recovery villa for Bond near the end), and for fashion and other photo shoots.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 25th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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Julia1---your photos are outstanding and took me back to one of our favorite adventures. 10 days on Lake Como in Sept., and we wished we had more time.
Our favorites were Cipresse and Monastero in Varenna.

We couldn't go to Balbianello for some reason, so that gives us a reason to return. We did see it from the lake on a boat out to the island. We spent time hiking the island, and with perfect weather that was very nice.

Villa Carlotta is next door to the Grand Tremezzo Hotel, but I didn't realize there was anything besides the hotel. We stayed at the Tremezzo, and it remains one of our favorites.

The breakfast(included) on the balcony overlooking the lake was outstanding, and so was the view. We also had dinner twice on the balcony just because of the view. Behind the hotel is a hill to hike up, and the views at sunset of Bellagio across the lake are stunning.

We also enjoyed Mennaggio. Cute town. Everything is easy to get to by boat during the day, but you'll need a car at night. And, of course, everyone loves Belliago.

I'll also mention my favorite dinner(actually dinners as we went there twice). It was at "Al Velue" about 5-10 min. drive from the Tremezzo in the hills overlooking the lake.
The views from the outside terrace, and the food and service were something I'll never forget. Of all our European travels and restaurants, this was "The One" for me. If you can get a boat to take you across the lake and pick you up at night, it's worth a visit.

We'll be looking forward to your review when you return.
TPAYT is offline  
Apr 25th, 2008, 10:58 AM
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Thanks for the info, Patrick. I will definitely look into it while I'm there.

gracie04 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2008, 08:48 PM
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Please note that villa Balbianello is near Lenno, not Lecco.
julia1 is offline  
Apr 26th, 2008, 12:20 PM
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Duh. Yes of course. Why did I say that? Thanks, julia. I'd hate to see someone take the train down to Lecco looking for it.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 26th, 2008, 02:23 PM
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What great information!
starrs is offline  
Apr 27th, 2008, 09:40 AM
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Do you remember the name or contact info for the tour to Villa Del Balbianello?

It sounds perfect and would love to book since I'll be leaving soon.

Thanks so much.
bashamj is offline  
Apr 27th, 2008, 09:50 AM
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Not a clue. Just that there was a sign by the small dock, and sometimes during the day a girl in a chair taking reservations for it. I would think most of the hotels would know and could possibly even reserve for you -- just a guess.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 27th, 2008, 01:11 PM
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I agree with NeoPatrick, your hotel should be able to get you started.

Alternatively, we toured the Balbianello on a Tuesday. Tuesday morning is also market morning in Lenno. We walked from Lenno to the villa. Evidently walking up is only possible one or two days a week. Once you get close to villa there is a little tours shed, and we waited a short-time for the english tour.

I think that the 'Lido di Lenno' runs the boats that go go over to the Balbianello's boat landing. I think that the travel agent's office in Varenna also arranges for access to the Villa.
Big_Red is offline  
Apr 27th, 2008, 07:33 PM
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Glad to see this post is still growing... Thank you all for your continuing thoughts and tips! We leave in two weeks, so I'll be sure to report back.

hlocke1 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2008, 08:51 PM
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Just a bit more info about visiting Villa Balbianello: Visits are permitted every day except Mondays and Wednesdays, open from 1000-1800, last entrance 1730. Access is mainly by boat from Lenno, but on Tuesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays there is access on foot from Lenno. If a public holiday falls on Monday or Wednesday, the garden is open. On a sunny day, the garden and setting are exquisite, well worth the trouble to visit. Here are some photos: http://gardentouring.fotopic.net/c771444.html and some more: http://gardentouring.fotopic.net/c767591.html
julia1 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2008, 09:58 PM
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We'll be visiting Lake Como as a day trip from Milan, taking the train to Varenna.

I thought we would have time for one garden, but is Balbianello too difficult to get to? Even though Melzi, Carlotta, or Monastera would be more convenient (and undoubtedly lovely), I am somehow really drawn to Balbianello!!

We will be there on a Saturday in June.

How long would I have to plan to take a ferry to Lenno, walk to the gardens, spend about an hour, and get back to Bellagio or Varenna?

and this thread is wonderful, btw!


dina4 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2008, 10:20 AM
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It's do-able, but you'll have to be prepared to leave Milan early in the day. At this time the summer ferry schedules aren't yet published, but the spring timetable shows two morning ferries into Lenno and four in the afternoon. There may be more in June. Here's a link: http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/eng/c...ora_m3a_p.html If you can catch the 0937 departure from Varenna, you can either go directly to Lenno for a morning visit, which I would advise, or you could stop at Bellagio or Villa Carlotta first, and then catch a later ferry onward to Lenno. The walk from Lenno is about 1km, so under 30 minutes easily. If you take the tour of the house, it is about an hour, and allow another half-hour or so to stroll the grounds and admire the views. The garden itself isn't very large and it isn't intensively gardened.

If you visit in the morning, you could catch the 1300 ferry to Villa Carlotta/Tremezzo. No tour is required here to visit the villa, which is now a museum of decorative arts. The garden is large and very lovely with, again, wonderful views of the lake. You could easily spend two hours here, or more if you stop for lunch, but it's possible to see the garden in an hour or less unless you're a keen gardener.

Or you could continue on to Bellagio for lunch and shopping, or even return to Varenna and visit Villa Monastero, which is really quite wonderful as a garden. The walk from the ferry docks to Monastero will probably take you about 20-30 minutes, especially if you stop for a gelato along the way.

You will have more choice of ferries between Tremezzo-Bellagio-Varenna. It's just getting to Lenno that is somewhat limited.
julia1 is offline  

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