Villa del Balbianello Lake Como
If you couldn't tell from my Instagram photos, villa hopping is the thing to do in Lake Como. One of my favorites was Villa del Balbianello in the town of Lenno. The villa was formerly a monastery, of which the original towers are still apart of the home.
Through the years the property changed hands, becoming a fabulous summer home offering panoramic vistas of the lake. Eventually the home was purchased by businessman and explorer, Count Guido Monzino, who led the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest.
During his ownership he decorated the home with incredible, priceless artifacts and a beautiful mix of Oriental and French design. Reportedly, Monzino was also worried about assassination so he added a series of secret passageways throughout the house. I seriously felt like I was in a Scooby-Doo episode with all of the moving walls revealing stairways, and of course, a secret bar hidden in a bookshelf.
Monzino endowed the property to the FAI which is why we can tour the home today. Since then, the property has been used for filming huge franchise moments such as "Casino Royale" and "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones." It has also become a very popular wedding destination. The waiting list is supposedly several years long and a wedding is hosted everyday that the property is open.
Villa Balbianello is open daily, except Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10:00AM to 6:00PM, with last entry at 4:30PM. Comfortable shoes are highly recommended and for good reason. To get to the villa, take the ferry to the Lenno stop. Then it is about a ten minute walk to the property entrance. To get to the front gate, it is another mile or so walk up a steep path. I, as you can see, was wearing wedges which are usually very comfortable to walk in, but my feet were definitely in pain by the end of our visit.
At the front gate, you can pay for entrance to the gardens and an additional fee for a guided tour through the villa, which I highly recommend. We spent about four hours here and definitely agreed that this property had some of the best views and the most interesting history.