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Villa Del Balbianello, The Ultimate Guide

Villa Balbianello

Welcome to Villa Del Balbianello, Lake Como’s Most Famous Movie Set!

It is the place where Anakin stole Padme their first kiss, inspired by the romantic scenery surrounding their balcony. A location with a complex soul and a deep personality, welcoming its visitors and unveiling its numerous secrets little by little, while inspiring a growing sense of joy and curiosity.

This place is Villa del Balbianello, located in the Italian village of Lenno, in Lake Como’s area of Tremezzina.

From Star Wars Episode II, to Casino Royale, to a Month by the Lake, the villa has been picked by many directors as their Italian location of choice for their masterpieces, but it’s also a chest overflowing with hidden treasures: ancient objects, art collections from exotic countries, mementos of explorations in the most remote areas of the world.

Welcome to Lake Como, and welcome to Villa del Balbianello.

Villa Balbianello Garden
Villa Balbianello Garden

Villa del Balbianello: a History of Art and Adventures on Lake Como 

Villa del Balbianello was built in 1787 by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini. The clergyman used to host intellectual gatherings, and promoted the construction of the eighteenth-century loggia and the two pavilions.

After the cardinal’s death, in 1797, Villa del Balbianello passed to cardinal Durini’s nephew, Luigi Porro Lambertenghi, who restored the old church of San Giovanni and the former monastery. In the first decades of the ‘800s, the villa became Lake Como’s favorite meeting place for Italian revolutionaries, who aimed at pursuing national independence by unifying Italy and liberating it from foreign powers.

This tradition continued with the next owner of Villa del Balbianello, Giuseppe Arconati Visconti; his son, Gianmartino, improved the villa’s garden and loggia, laying the foundations of the villa’s current appearance.

Did you know? Just like a little Hogwarts, Villa del Balbianello has some secret passages connecting its indoor environments. Ask your tour guide to show them to you, you won’t be disappointed!

Nevertheless, after Gianmartino, Villa del Balbianello went through a period of decline, until it was purchased, in 1919, by the American general Butler Ames, who fell in love with Lake Como’s lifestyle. The general restored the building and the gardens and sold the villa to the Italian alpinist and explorer Guido Monzino.

He is the real spiritual father of Villa del Balbianello. Over the years, Monzino embellished the villa with relics from his expeditions, as well as with rare and ethnic art pieces from the Himalayas to the Andes, from Africa to Greenland.

When Guido Monzino died, in 1988, he donated Villa del Balbianello to the Italian foundation, Fondo Ambiente Italiano, committed to preserving the villa in its original condition and promoting the heritage of Lake Como and other Italian historical sites.

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Villa del Balbianello: what to do in Italy’s most beautiful  mansion

Walk around the set of your favorite movies

Immaculate, well-kept gardens, intertwined with the elegant ramifications of the mansion and surrounded by Lake Como’s unrivaled scenery: the beauty of Villa del Balbianello has been able to attract internationally renowned movie directors, who chose the immersive beauty of Lake Como as the set for their most romantic shots.

Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala picked it as their wedding location (Star Wars II: Clone Wars), and we definitely understand them: Lake Como and Villa del Balbianello are as otherworldly as the planet Naboo. The famous Star Wars wedding scene could actually be set in just a few other places on Earth, as Villa del Balbianello is almost unrivaled in the world when it comes to inspiration and romanticism.

Villa del Balbianello was also James Bond’s retreat of choice in Casino Royale. As a matter of fact, Lake Como housed the world’s most famous secret agent during his recovery, allowing him to have a well-deserved buen retiro after being tortured by the antagonist of the movie, the evil Le Chiffre.

Did you know? Director Martin Campbell clearly has a thing for Italy’s treasures: the finale of Casino Royale was also filmed on Lake Como, in the beautiful Villa la Gaeta

Re-live Guido Monzino’s worldwide travels

the eccentric Italian millionaire, explorer, and alpinist transformed his residence into a proper museum. The numerous rooms and halls of Villa del Balbianello showcase antiques and artifacts from all over the world: rare African art, mountain equipment used for the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest, and a library full of mysterious and ancient books. Travel through the continents and the decades, without leaving your favorite vacation spot on Lake Como.

Get enchanted by the beauty of the gardens

Made famous by Star Wars, the outdoor spaces of Villa del Balbianello are the perfect emblem of natural allure, wisely harnessed by the expert hand of the best gardeners. From secular trees to flower beds and terraces overlooking the enchanting landscape of Lake Como, the gardens of Villa del Balbianello are able to create pure emotions even in the iciest of hearts.

Taste the Italian history and arts

From the loggia to the fine interiors, Villa del Balbianello is a living art show, and not just because of the collections it safeguards. The villa is composed of two residential buildings, a porch, and a church. All of them are little architectural treasures and are adorned by sculptures, paintings, and fine stuccoes.

Villa Balbianello Interior
Villa Balbianello Interior

How to get to Villa del Balbianello, from Como and Milan

Villa del Balbianello can be reached through a short trip to Lake Como. Differently from Star Wars, however, a spaceship won’t be necessary: getting to Villa del Balbianello will be way easier and more romantic.

LCE Tip: wear comfy shoes and get some water with you! The villa is located on the Laveno peninsula: an enchanting outpost on Lake Como’s waters. However, a 1 km (0.6 miles) walk is necessary to get to Villa del Balbianello. The path starts from Via degli Artigiani. Alternatively, it’s possible to catch an express taxi boat, departing every 20 minutes from the village of Lenno. 

By car

Polish your sunglasses and roll down the windows!

From Milan, get the A9 freeway, exit at the Como/Lago di Como sign, and follow the indications for Menaggio. (road SS340): the road runs along Lake Como’s coastline and allows visitors to reach the parking lot surrounding Villa del Balbianello in just 1 hour.

By Public transportation

Reach the train station of Milano Cadorna (green or red metro lines) and catch the first train to the station of Como Lago (timetable). Alternatively, from Milano Centrale, catch one of the 2 trains per hour bound for Chiasso (Switzerland) and jump off the train at Como S. Giovanni. Tickets are sold for €4,80, and both trips last 1 hour.

Once in Como, a bus  (C10 line) will be the most direct way to reach Villa del Balbianello: stops are located either at the Stazione Autolinee (located outside of Como Lago) or at Como S. Giovanni. The service is available twice per hour, at a price of around €4 for a one-way trip. This bus will travel on Lake Como’s shoreline and stop in Lenno.

By boat

The most authentic way to travel around Lake Como. In less than 10 minutes from the stations, reach the town’s dock; from there, sail to Lenno in a little less than 1 hour and a half. The applied tariffs start from €10.40 for adults: we recommend taking a look at the official website. Hydrofoils are also available, and allow a quicker (around 40 minutes) and more exciting trip; surcharges are applied for hydrofoils, starting from €1.40, up to €4.90. We recommend planning your trip here!

LCE tip: Feeling Lake Como’s luxury vibe? Why not rent your private Riva wooden speedboat or Venetian Limousine? The sweet taste of speed and the calming sound of water will make your day royal!

From Lenno’s harbor, reaching the path leading to Villa del Balbianello will be a matter of minutes.

Villa Balbianello Lake Como view
Villa Balbianello Lake Como view

Villa del Balbianello: Useful Tips

Entry hours and Opening Period

Villa del Balbianello is usually open from March to November, with slight variations depending on Lake Como’s touristic seasons. The mansion can be visited from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm: the last guided tour to the park starts at 5.00 pm, while access to the interior of the villa is usually not granted after 4.30 pm.

Tickets and fares

Guided visits to Villa del Balbianello are offered in Italian and English. Two typologies of tours can be purchased: the one to the whole property (€22, with a discount to €12 for kids between 6 and 18), and a visit exclusively to the garden (€11, €6 for 6–18  years old kids). The complete tour lasts about 60 minutes.

Private Events

Villa del Balbianello is one of the most fascinating sites of Lake Como, and it can become the fairy tale location of private events, such as weddings, private parties and ceremonies, photo shootings and much more.

Address your inquiry to Michela Sormani, the villa’s event specialist!

Email: m.sormani@fondoambiente.it

Phone: + 39 342 7749314

General Contacts: 

Visit the official website of Villa del Balbianello.

Email: faibalbianello@fondoambiente.it

Phone: +39 0344 56110

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