Villa del Balbianello is an elegant and romantic 18th century mansion with an amazing garden bequeathed to the FAI by its last owner, the Italian mountaineer and explorer, Guido Monzino.
The initiator of the wonders of the Balbianello was the Cardinal Durini, a man of letters and patron, who bought the promontory at the end of the eighteenth century to build a secluded holiday and literary leisure residence.
In 1974 the Villa became the property of Guido Monzino, entrepreneur, collector and passionate traveller.
Guido Monzino had a very adventurous life, he was at the head of the first Italian ascent on the Roof of the World, Everest. Many relics of his mountaineering exploits are collected in the small museum wanted and set up in the Villa by Monzino himself: the Museum of Expeditions.
Guido Monzino also took great care of the garden, starting restoration works to recreate the appearance of the times of Cardinal Durini; with these interventions the garden regained the shape of its eighteenth-century conception.
By Guido Monzino’s will, in 1988 the FAI took charge of the management of the Villa, preserving the spirit that lives again also in the amazing garden, cared for with maniacal perfection.
Different elements intertwine in the garden: styles of the Italian garden, peculiarities of the English garden and aspects of the French garden. Two factors make the park scenic: the presence of creepers and the artistic umbrella pruning in the area in front of the Villa and the candelabra in the loggia.
Video Tour of Villa del Balbianello
Watch the video tours of Villa del Balbianello, one of the most fascinating and romantic residences of our peninsula that with its magnificent garden offers unique views of Lake Como and has hosted writers and travelers from all over the world.
Discover Villa del Balbianello through the story of Marco Magnifico, FAI vice-president
Discover the Garden as told by Massimo Bordoli, head gardener of the Villa
Wisteria in bloom
The Museum of Expeditions
A photographic tour
“The monumental arched structure, inverted by an amazing Ficus Repens and decorated with a wind rose inlaid in the floor to symbolically orient Monzino’s returns after his wanderings around the world”.
“The small port built among the rocks that welcomes visitors arriving from the lake with the motto “Fay ce que vouldras” (Do what you want), in memory of Cardinal Durini’s warning that at the end of the eighteenth century he wanted to create a retreat of delight and literary entertainment in this corner of the lake”.
“The precious and curious collections of rare objects, such as those of primitive art (with African, pre-Columbian, Egyptian, Arcadian and Inuit examples), maps, 19th century prints with views of the Lario, books, carpets and rare glass paintings of the 18th century”.
Il Museo delle Spedizioni
“The thrill of Guido Monzino’s mountaineering exploits, told through the fascinating relics of the small museum he wanted and set up in the Villa”.