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The villages of Tremezzina


The villa was built at the beginning of 1700 for the Marquis Clerici from Milan. Late in the same century, it became property of the Count Sommariva from Lodi, who married Clerici's daughter. In 1856 the Villa was sold to Princess Marianna of Prussia, who gave it as a wedding present to her daughter Carlotta, when she married Prince George of Sachsen. At the end of the 1st World War, the Italian State annexed the villa as booty of war. It was then decided to open both the gardens and the villa to the public under the management of Ente Villa Carlotta, as it is nowadays. Inside the Villa it is possible to admire some paintings by Hayez, Vikar, Lordon and Migliara, some fragments of frescoes by Acquisti and some sculptures by Canova and Thorwaldsen together with some important antique tapestries and furniture. Count Sommariva planned the very first part of the garden in perfect Italian style, with a fountain in its center, as it is still possible to see in the fore garden at the entrance. At that time the garden was not as wide as nowadays. It was the Prince of Sachsen who enlarged it toward Cadenabbia, planning it after the English style and taking good care of setting the plants in order to emphasize the beauty of the landscape. The American poet Longfellow after visiting Villa Carlotta gardens wrote:

I ask myself " is this a dream?

Will it all vanish into air?

Is there a land of such supreme

And perfect beauty anywhere?

The gardens as they are today, are famous for the blooming of the azaleas (end of April - beginning of May). The villa is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. More details are available at the counter. Service of guided tours on request. For booking and information: Tel. 0344 40405.
How to reach Villa Carlotta: by ferry from Bellagio and Varenna. By bus or car from any other place.

In Middle Ages the area of Lenno was characterized by many religious settlements. Of that period is the church of San Giovanni, with its two bell towers, now incorporated in Villa del Balbianello Originally the church was part of the convent of Cistercian nuns under the rule of the See of Santa Eufemia of Isola Comacina. In late Middle Ages it became a convent for Franciscan Friars and from 1535 until it was dissolved, for Capuchin Friars. In 1797 Cardinal Durini bought the neglected and decayed convent and turned it into a de-lux residence. He changed the medieval architecture of the building into Baroque style surrounding it with a beautiful garden. At this death, the villa became property of the Porro- Lambertini family and later it passed to the Arconati - Viscontis, who made some more architectural modifications. In 1974 the villa was sold to Guido Monzino who restored it adding a precious art collection. At his death he left the villa to the F.A.I. (Italian Foundation for the preserving of monuments and environments). The garden of the villa are open from 10.00 to 12.30 and from 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. except on Monday and Wednesday. Admittance inside the villa ara possible only with guided tours previous booking. Tel. 0344 56110.
How to reach Villa Balbianello from Tremezzina: By bus to Lenno and private boat available along shore at Venus Bay

The latin naturalist and historian Pliny the Young owned two villas in the central area of Lake Como. He named Comoedia (Comedy) the one in Lenno, and Tragedia (Tragedy) the other one on the promontory of Bellagio. He chooses their names in accordance with the environment where they were set, as it appeared 2.000 years ago. As a matter of facts, in those days the promontory of Bellagio was an ensemble of arsh rocky ravines covered with wild vegetation, a perfect scenario for a tragedy. At the end of the Roman Empire, the strategic position of the promontory of Bellagio, facing north and dominating the two branches of the lake, became of great military importance. Nearby the ruins of Pliny' villa, the Barbarian hordes coming down from north to invade Italy built a military stronghold. First came the Vandals, then the Goths who were followed by the Longbards. Each time, each tribe fought bloody wars for the possession of the stronghold, which consequently was destroyed and rebuilt several times. This lasted until, with the advent of the Long- bards, who gave their name to the region and founded the Kingdom of Lombardy, the stronghold became a shelter for the Cavargnoni, a band of ferocious bloody robbers from Cavargna Valley. Later, when Gian Galeazzo Visconti became Duke of Milan, the stronghold was destroyed in order to get rid of those bloody brigands. Soon after, Ercole Sfondrati, who belonged to a local potent and rich family, had a tower rebuilt on the same very spot in order to complete the complicated system of watchtowers, which were built for exchanging messages from top to bottom of the lake by means of mirrors and bone-fires. During Renaissance, the Marquis Stanga bought the whole promontory of Bellagio from Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan and had a de-lux villa built right where Pliny had his La Tragedia. Once again the villa was destroyed during the bloody wars fought on Lombard soil century between French, Germans, Swiss and Spaniards for the succession to the Dukedom of Milan, during the 15th and 16th. In 1788, Francesco Sfondrati, the new owner, had the villa rebuilt and later he sold it to the rich high middle class Serbelloni family, who is mainly remembered because of Giuseppe Parini's poetries. For many years the great Italian poet worked for them as a tutor for their children. In 1959 Villa Serbelloni became property of the Rockefeller Foundation, and now it is an international place for cultural seminaries and congresses. The gardens of the Villa are open only with guided tours at 10.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. Booking and tickets at Bellagio Tourist Office. Tel. 031 950204

Francesco Melzi D'eryl had the villa built between 1808 and 1815 on a project by Architect G. Albertalli from Milan. The structure of the building is in perfect neo-classic style, of rectangular plan, with facades horizontally discontinued by level bands, and scanned by three rows of windows put in rhythmical sequence. The Oratory is in the same style of the villa with a dome supported by pillars. The gardens were projected and built taking into careful consideration the environment. It is said that the villa was built to compete with Count Sommariva, who owned the nowadays-called villa Carlotta. More information on the villa are available at the entrance. The gardens are open form 9.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
How to reach Bellagio: form Tremezzina by boat or by car-ferry from Cadenabbia

Originally the villa was a Convent build in 1169 for a community of Cistercian Nuns, who escaped from the fire and destruction of Isola Comacina. The very first document referring to the Monastery of Varenna is a deed through which the Abbess Sofia buys three acres of land in 1208. In 1566 San Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, asked to dissolve the Community, after having ascertained the small number of nuns living there (only six) and because, according to the dispositions of the Trento Ecumenical Council, he could not consider them as a religious community any more. The 13th February 1567 with a Bull of Pope Pius V the Monastery was closed and the nuns transferred to Lecco. Some malignant people say that the Monastery was shut down because of the nuns' behaviour, who took advantage of the isolated position of the convent to live a dissolute life. In 1568 Paolo Mornico bought the monastery that was in great decay, and restored it as a house for his family. At his death, his son Lelio transformed it into a de-lux residential villa that passed down to his descendent until 1862. Since then, the villa passed on property to a number of rich Italian and foreign families. Each of them made important architectural alterations so that, nowadays, nothing is left from the original building except some fragments of walls embodied into the modern structure. As the last owner was a German, after the 1st World War, the Italian State annexed Villa Monastero as war booty. Later, it was sold to Marco De Marchi who, at his death in 1936 left it to the Hydrobiology and Limnology Institute. In 1977 the Villa was given to the National Council of Research under the management of Ente Villa Monastero and it has become an international meeting center for scientists The gardens of the Villa are open daily from 9.30 to 12.30 and from 3.00 to 6.30.
How to get to Varenna from Tremezzina by boat or by ferryboat from Cadenabbia or Menaggio.

By popular tradition the castle was one of the many abodes in Como area in which used to live the beloved Longbard Queen Teodolinda. For sure, the strategic position of the place has been exploited since the oldest times, supposedly back to the iron - era to which date some items rescued nearby the tower and now preserved at the Archaeological Museum of Como. In Roman era, there was a watchtower to control the road that from Bellano goes into Esino Valley. The Medieval tower is 20 mt. high surrounded by thick defensive walls. It was built in the 12th century, probably by the people who escaped from Isola Comacina when it was destroyed 1169, as the historian Paolo Giovio affirms. At that time, two high walls ran down from the Castle to Varenna, ending with a tower on the lakeshore. In the 18th century, the Castle together with the land around it belonged to the Church of Varenna. Later it became property of the Sfondratis first, and of the Serbellonis afterwards and also today it is a private property. It has recently been restored and opened to the public. More information are available on the spot.
How to reach Varenna: from Tremezzina by boat or by car ferry from Cadenabbia or Menaggio to Varenna then follow direction boards to the castle of Vezio.


Texts by Bina Battistella Fraquelli
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