Villa Carlotta is a fabulous residence located in a panoramic position overlooking the lake, Bellagio and the Grigna mountain. The villa welcomes visitors with its magnificent botanic garden and art masterpieces in over 70.000 square metres of gardens and museum.
The villa is composed of a three floors building based on a “C” plan with a facade marked by simple pilaster strips. In the central part two central windows emphasize the main entrance and the opening above the main floor.
The Italian garden in front of the villa has maintained its original layout and has a stone balustrade decorated with allegorical figures and a fountain with a statue of Arion of Methymna.
The rooms in the ground floor have a neoclassical decoration and are dedicated to the exhibition of the art collection. In the central hall there is a relief with the Entry of Alexander the Great in Babylon, created by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. Other works are displayed in the rooms of the ground floor: the statue of Terpsichore by Antonio Canova, the Palamedes by the same Canova, the celebrated group of Eros and Psyche made by Adamo Tadolini, the painting Virgil reading the sixth canto of Aeneid by the French painter Jean-Baptiste Wicar and the Last goodbye of Romeo and Juliet by Francesco Hayez.
The rooms on the first floor preserve antique furniture and some wooden ceilings with an 18th century decoration. Around the villa there is a big park known for its extraordinary spring flowering rhododendrons and azaleas. Botanical collections and landscapes make the garden a must destination all year round.
The villa was built in the late 17th century by the Marquis Giorgio Clerici II and, as illustrated by the engravings by Marcantonio Dal Re; at that time the villa was surrounded by a large Italian garden with statues, fountains and terraces sloping down to the lake.
The property was sold in 1801 to Gian Battista Sommariva, President of the Government Committee of the Cisalpine Republic and a collector of art who gave a new look to the building by removing furniture and decorations from 18th century to place part of his valuable collection of works of art. These masterpieces made the villa famous throughout Europe and attracted illustrious visitors such as Stendhal, Flaubert and Lady Morgan.
In 1843 the property was purchased by Princess Marianne of Nassau and in 1847 it was given to her daughter Carlotta to which we owe the current name of the villa, on the occasion of her marriage to the Grand Duke George of Saxony-Meiningen. The new owners added some decoration with motifs in neo renaissance and Pompeian style made by German and Italian artists, including Ludovico Pogliaghi, and improved the garden introducing new species such as rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, ferns and palms.
Since 1927 the property belongs to the Italian State Government and is managed by a nonprofit organization.
Facilities: Coffee-house, bookshop, pic-nic areas, lift
The entrance with dogs is allowed only if kept on the leash and in the garden.
How to get here
- From Como: highway 340 to Menaggio.
- From Milan: Motorway A9 Milano-Laghi exit Lake Como, then state road 340 to Menaggio.
- From Switzerland (Lugano): Lugano-Menaggio road, then state road 340 towards Como.
- Milan Central – Tirano with stop Varenna Esino;
- Milan Central – Sondrio with stop Varenna Esino;
- Milan Porta Garibaldi – Chiasso with Como San Giovanni stop;
- Milan Cadorna – Como North Lakes.
From Como to Villa carlotta
Once in Como you can continue with “Asf Autolinee – Line C10 Como – Menaggio – Colico” (Tremezzo – Villa Carlotta).
From Como / Varenna to Villa carlotta
Once you reach Varenna or Como you can continue with Navigazione Lago di Como (Tremezzo/Villa Carlotta).