Villa Carlotta From The Lake

Villa Carlotta’s Beautiful Gardens

There is a wonderful town along Lake Como, called Tremezzo.  Most people have heard of Bellagio, which sits on the exact shore opposite Tremezzo, but the lesser known town is a true gem with far fewer tourists crowding the streets.  Tremezzo is home to a couple of our favorite restaurants and gelaterie (ice cream parlors).  It is also home to Villa Carlotta, a 17th century treasure that has been beautifully restored and maintained.

Villa Carlotta

Jen and I have been wanting to visit Villa Carlotta since we moved to Como.  The beauty of the villa and the gardens are well known in this area and attract thousands of visitors each year.  We had planned on going in March when my aunt and uncle were visiting, but the villa is not open to the public until the 15th (just a few short days after they departed).  Since the gardens are the main attraction, the preservation society wants to ensure all the flowers are in full bloom.  Jen and I decided that since my mom is a big fan of gardens, we would visit while they were here (read about the first part of their trip HERE).

Julia peeks out from behind her Grandma and Pop-Pop

We had planned a drive along the lake to arrive in Tremezzo just in time for lunch.  We took my parents to one of our favorite restaurants, La Fagurida that we had discovered some time ago (blog post HERE).  Their specialty is rabbit – and once again, we were not disappointed with the food.

Jen and Sonny outside of La Fagurida
Julia was all kisses after lunch

After lunch, we drove back down the long and windy mountain road toward the center of town.  We parked and got our admission tickets to the villa.  We spent some time walking through the villa, but the real beauty was in walking through the elaborate and seemingly endless gardens.

Villa Carlotta, Museum and Botanical Garden
Impressive stairway leading to an impressive facade
The ornate gardens begin the moment you enter the grounds
Julia stops for a photo with her grandparents, Stefani and Sonny
She was amazed by the turtle pond
There were half a dozen of these little guys
View from the front of the villa’s terrace overlooking Lake Como
A mom and a grandma snap pictures of our little Julia
They had oranges growing in the trellis that Julia wanted to pluck
Julia strikes a fashionable pose on the terrace
The villa was positioned to overlook the town of Bellagio, across Lake Como
Priceless works of art adorn each room in the villa
Jen and Julia stop for a picture in the villa

I have copied a brief description of Villa Carlotta directly from the brochure, if you are interested in a bit of it’s unique history:

Villa Carlotta is a place of rare beauty, where masterpieces of nature and art live together in perfect harmony in over 70,000 square meters (17 acres) of garden and museum.  The beautiful villa was built at the end of the 17th century in a natural basin between lake and mountains, facing the dolomitic Grignas and the peninsula of Bellagio.  The architect created for the Clericis – a noble and powerful Milanese family – an important but somber building, with an Italian garden decorated with sculptures, stairs and fountains.  In 1801 Gian Battista Sommariva, famous politician, businessman and patron of arts, bought the villa.  Thanks to him, the villa attained the summit of its splendor and became one of the most important halting-place of the Grand Tour with its collection of art (masterpieces of Canova, Thorvaldsen and Hayez) and its fascinating romantic garden.  In the second half of the century Princess Marianne of Nassau bought the villa and gave it as a present to her daughter Carlotta in occasion of her wedding with Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen.  Georg was passionate about botany and made a lot of improvements and new additions to the park that became more and more famous for its botanical richness and the rhododendrons’ and azaleas’ spring flowering.  

The beauty of the gardens did not disappoint, we all enjoyed each moment of the self-guided tour.

Overlooking Como and Bellagio
Julia couldn’t get enough of the rhododendrons
We had to stop and smell almost every flower
One of my favorite pictures of Julia
Always the lady… or flirt?!
Giving Pop-Pop as kiss as thanks for the ride
Climbing the stairs in La valle delle felci (the valley of ferns)
Walking through Il giardino dei bambù (the gardens of bamboo)
Still in the Bamboo Garden
Julia runs quickly across a stone table
Calocedrus decurrens
Views from all angles
Julia had to play with the fountains one last time
She insisted on making a little splash

Villa Carlotta, more specifically – the gardens of Villa Carlotta are simply stunning to behold.  I would strongly recommend copying our itinerary and enjoying pranzo (lunch) at La Fagurida before spending countless hours getting lost in the gardens of Villa Carlotta.