The unique location of Villa Balbianello allows visitors to get there only by foot (walking on a 1 km footpath which starts from Via degli Artigiani) or by a taxiboat that leaves from the Lenno beach (€7.5 for the roundtrip).
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), the Italian National Trust.
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