Villa del Balbianello

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The Villa del Balbianello

The Villa del Balbianello is a villa in the comune of Lenno (province of Como), Italy, overlooking Lake Como. It is located on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore of the south-west branch of Lake Como, not far from the Isola Comacina and is famous for its elaborate terraced gardens.


The villa was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery for the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini. The two towers which can be seen in the picture are the campanili of the convent church. After the cardinal’s death in 1796, the villa passed to his nephew, Luigi Porro Lambertenghi. Among Lambertenghi's guests at the villa were the writer and patriot Silvio Pellico, who tutored Lambertenghi's sons. When he was forced to leave Italy, Lambertenghi sold the villa to his friend, Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, grandfather of Luchino Visconti.[1] Visconti made improvements to its gardens and the loggia.

By the early twentieth century, the buildings had fallen into a state of neglect when American businessman Butler Ames purchased and renovated the villa and its garden. In 1974, Ames's heirs sold the villa to explorer Guido Monzino (leader of the first Italian expedition to climb Mount Everest), who filled it with rich collections, including artifacts acquired on his expeditions. Monzino, who died in 1988, left the villa to the Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano, the National Trust of Italy. Its grounds now form part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani.

Film appearances[edit]

A number of feature films have used the villa for location shooting, including A Month by the Lake (1995), His Demise starring Paul Zukowski (2016 disaster movie), Casino Royale (2006). The villa was also used for the lake retreat scenes in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002) however CGI was used in place of the building's true exterior.


  1. ^ "Villa del Balbianello" Friends of FAI Archived June 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. retrieved May 20, 2016

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°57′54″N 9°12′09″E / 45.96500°N 9.20250°E / 45.96500; 9.20250