Villa del Balbianello will leave you breathless, thanks to its beautiful terraced gardens and picturesque structure.
The villa is now a venue for private events such as weddings, ceremonies and even film or photographic sets (this is where scenes from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Casino Royale were filmed).
It is therefore not possible to sleep in the villa, but if you are looking for accommodation nearby… check out the best places to sleep near the villa!
Note: I do not run Villa Balbianello, as many who contact me think, but here I provide you with a lot of information to plan your visit. Enjoy your trip!
Discover Villa Balbianello
The whole complex consists of two residential buildings, a church, and a portico (known as Loggia Durini) that can host weddings and events in a truly unique setting.
But the special feature of Villa Balbianello is above all the vast garden that surrounds the dwellings, with magnificent holm oaks pruned into an umbrella shape so as to offer a splendid view of Lake Como from inside the villa.
The villa’s interior, accessible only by guided tour, houses some English and French furnishings which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries and are a valuable legacy of the complex’s former owners (read the history of Villa Balbianello if you want to learn more).
The villa also houses numerous paintings on glass and a rich collection of sculptures and ethnic artifacts.
Many of these works are a legacy of Guido Monzino, former owner of the villa and leader of the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest.
Skywalker & Padmé Amidala’s kiss
Villa del Balbianello has been used as the setting for several movies. Here is where to spot the most famous ones.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
James Bond at Villa Balbianello
A Month by the Lake
Open from mid-March to the end of November (please check on Google or on the official website). Special openings even in December.
Opening times: 10am - 6pm (last admission to visit the park is at 5pm).
Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays (except on holidays).
Note: booking at least 24 hours before the visit is strongly recommended.
- Garden only: €12 (6-18 years old kids: €9)
- Whole property (garden + villa): €23 (6-18 years old kids: €15)
See a full list on the official website
45 minute guided tours for groups of up to 10 people are available by reservation (please contact this mail address for more info).
The unique location of Villa Balbianello allows visitors to get there only by foot (by taking an easy 1 km uphill path from Via degli Artigiani) or by a taxiboat that leaves from the Lenno beach (€8 for the roundtrip). Either way, you can reach Lenno from the other lake towns by boat or by the C10 bus.
Villa del Balbianello was built at the end of the 18th century by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, on the site of an ancient Franciscan monastery. In the 19th century, after the cardinal’s death, the villa became property of Count Luigi Porro Lambertenghi, his grandson.
Afterward, Villa Balbianello was purchased by Marquis Giuseppe Arconati Visconti, who hosted some great intellectuals such as Alessandro Manzoni, Giovanni Berchet, and Giuseppe Giusti. Gianmartino Arconati Visconti, Giuseppe’s son, made some improvements to the villa’s gardens and loggia, but the decline of the noble family eventually led to a state of neglect.
In 1919, Villa del Balbianello was purchased by Butler Ames, an American soldier and businessman, who restored the villa to its original splendor.
Later, in 1974, his heirs gave it to the famous entrepreneur and explorer Guido Monzino. He embellished the villa with a rich collection of artifacts that he acquired during his expeditions. In 1988, Monzino died without issue and donated Villa del Balbianello to FAI (Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano).