Category Archives: Villas and gardens

Villa Monastero, one of the most beautiful villas of the Como Lake

At the beginning of the enchanting village of Varenna there is Villa Monastero, a beautiful building that holds artistic and architectural treasures, as well as an amazing gardens, and which is reflected in the calm waters of the lake

The History of Villa Monastero

Built on the ruins of a Cistercian monastery (based on the legend the nuns were transferred here because they were used to a “too joyous behaviour”), it was restored several times until it became a place of holidays between 1500 and 1600, with the acquisition by the family Mornico; among the whole building the little church was kept public to allow observants to use it.

Lelio Mornico, son of Paolo, who bought the property, made some changes and the villa was so called Leliana

Then it passed to other owners that brought several changes until finally Walter Erich Jacob Kees made those changes, both to the villa and the garden, who has given the property the aspect that it has now: He built up the 3 arches loggia, a dock in the northern area, the small temple, fountains, the kafee-haus, and he furnished the internal area.

Villa Monastero

He owned the property for a short period of time because the government confiscated it.

At the end the building passed in the hands of Marco de Marchi, who donated it, and everything was inside it, in public hands after his death.

Open to visitors during the 1940 it was then changed into a congress centre and in the 1954 one of the rooms was entitled to Enrico Fermi; in the 1977 it became part of the properties of the National Council of research and is now managed by the Lecco Province.

Visit to the Villa

Just passed the ticket office you have access to the beautiful park; walking on the boulevard you can admire the breath-taking view: the beautiful lake and the towns washed by its waters; in short you can admire there exotic plants, flowers, fountains and discover views before being in front of the entrance of the villa

Let’s go inside Villa Monastero

Crossing the threshold, the atrium floor gets your attention as it still is the original seventeenth-century floor wanted by Mornico; carefully observing the tiles you can admire its three-dimensional effect before staring at the imposing staircase made with the black marble of Varenna, the red and yellow one of Verona, the white one of Carrara and some peach blossoms. Here are proudly displayed the painted majolica panels depicting portraits of philosophers, musicians, artists and German scientists, as well as some large stuccos and two bronze lamps.

Villa Monastero

Among the rooms you can visit the south-east one (or room Kennedy), reserved for Carlotta Kees and characterized by some vintage furniture (chests of drawers, a clock, the candlesticks, the prie-dieu, the chair, the table and some paintings), the parlour placed on the side, the striking black room with its beautiful Varenna’s black marble fireplace and its Flemish tapestry, the red room with its neo-rococo furniture, the white marble fireplace and the eighteenth century tapestry, the Mornico  parlour, the master bedroom, the music room with two beautiful baby grand pianos, the living room with oriental furnishings and references to the Japanese style, as well as conference rooms and board ones.

What is astonishing is the bathroom, also called “bath of King Farouk “. Made in Pompeian style, with references to the Japanese style, it has a blue and pale blue tiled tub with steps, which are located next to marble obelisks. Embellished with panels depicting mermaids, merfolk and other elements that recall the marine life, it is preceded by a room with a toilet, a bidet, a coffee table, a wardrobe and an armchair.

Villa Monastero Re Faruk

Villa Monastero’s Garden

The visit to the gardens continues with ups and downs among palms, dragon trees, citrus trees, oleanders, rare and exotic plants; during the visit you can admire statues, fountains, artfully placed vases and temples; to rest, in addition to the comfortable benches scattered along the way, there is a small café that offers customers some seating overlooking the lake.

Villa Monastero Giardino

Visit the Villa: already from the start of the tour, just behind the ticket office, there are beautiful flowerbeds that offer amazing shows in springer time; Looking at right instead the view is fashinating watching the clear waters extending to Bellagio and more.

Vista da Villa Monastero

At a first stage we meet the little temple built by Kees, sculptures and fountains, then finally there is also the loggia.

The walking through the garden always gives surprise for the panorama and the botanic species alongside the boardwalk both on the left and right end side; the wonderful tour through plants flowers and fruits ends with visit to the Kaffe-Haus, view point on the amazing and unique panorama.


Within the area of Villa Monastero, people with moving problems is able to move safely and without any problem to the Museum Home; po get to the House there is the option of an electric shuttle while inside all the existing architectural barriers have been removed where possible to be substituted by elevators and ramps.

Villa Monastero gradini

The gardens are just partially accessible anyway because the second half of them are full of stairs and steps that make the access really difficult. Hide Keyboard

What to see at the Angera Rock

The Angera Rock is a place full of charme and culture. It is a must to go there when visiting Angera. It is sitting in a panoramic place on the top of a rocky spur on the upper side of the Maggiore Lake.

Originally owned by Archiepiscopal Table it becomes property of the Visconti Family on 1384; in the 1449 is bought by Vitaliano Borromeo and is still now property of the family.

Visiting the Angera Rock

It is possible to reach the Angera Rock by car and parking at the small park in front of it. After having paid the ticket and just behind the ticket office there is the paved street that in few steps drive people just at the building.

On the left hand side there is the amazing panorama of the Maggiore Lake and Arona; on the right hand side there is the building, while just in front there is the bar.

Vista dalla Rocca di Angera

Just inside, in the big square, it is possible both to access directly to the Doll and Toys Museum or staying looking at the Romanesque covering of the sarcophagus dated back to the VII Century and the historical room with the Press.

Tinaia alla Rocca di Angera

The Dolls and Toys’ Museum

The Museum of Dolls and childhood fashion of the Angera Rock was desired by Princess Bona Borromeo back in 1988 and has grown thank to its assistants and benefactors.

What in the past was shown inside the Petit Musée du Costume in Tours (collected with love by Robert Pesché and his wife Madame Gisèle Pesché) is now exposed in these rooms, after the Petit Musée risked to lose everything due to the lack of financing.

In this Museum, organized in 12 rooms, it is possible to admire dolls coming from different ages and made of various materials. The goal of the Museum, through a linear time itinerary, is to show the changes of this kind of game during the years.

Museo della bambola e del giocattolo Rocca di Angera

The dolls, well dressed and with their annexed trousseau while making particular activities, are posed in specific cases one after the other. Bilingual panels illustrate the materials they are made of and the related characteristics. For example the ceramics is easy to work and to wash, and became building material due to its strength.

It is easy to stop astonished in front of the dolls with nice faces and well defined particulars. Small dolls well dressed represent the fashion of the relative age. Really impressive are the “Frozen Charlie”, fully made of shiny porcelain with their nice colours and without joints, or the French “Mannequin Dolls” with their original trousseaus.

Museo della bambola e del giocattolo Rocca di Angera

Furthermore in the Museum it is possible to see miniatures of furniture of the collection of Roberta della Seta Sommi Picenardi, and also the merry-go-round horses in the area with the Japanese dolls.

Most of the dolls are made of mix of materials: wood, porcelain, papier-mâché. There are also the nice wax dolls, typical from the second half of the 19th Century.

Some of them are really bizarre, like the ones that offer the possibility to open their bell to see their internal mechanism allowing them to walk, or to send kisses. Particular is the “Gibson Girl” doll, inspired to the character created by the designer Charles Dana Gibson.

And how to forget the old majolica from Europe and Far East.

Historical rooms and medieval garden

Looking around the rooms of the Angera Rock, it is possible to find some rooms that, through furniture and paintings tell people about stories and myths.

An example of what we mean is the Mythologic Room, where myths of Atlanta and Ippomene are the subjects of a painting made by Guido Reni. Another example is the one of Apollo and Marsia. In the Room of the Justice, with the paintings of the Master of Angera, there are represented the achievements of Ottone Visconti, archbishop of Milan, who fight against Napo della Torre who was defeated in Desio in the 1277.

Rocca d'Angera

Over the register there are 3 astronomical and astrological subjects.

To enjoy an amazing view it is necessary to go on top of the tower (if you suffer of acrophobia or claustrophobia the last meters could annoy): from here you it is possible to admire the Maggiore Lake and Arona, just in front of the Rock, other than the Alps and Prealps.

Obviously, visiting the Angera Rock, you can avoid to visit the Medieval Garden with the Garden of the Small Grasses, divided in small flowerbeds with odoriferous and medical grasses. Walking through the garden you can see the orchard and the small forest as well, just below the Rock which dominates the whole area.

Giardino Medievale Rocca di Angera

An afternoon at the Angera Rock means entering a fairy-tale atmosphere, like jumping in the past, enjoy amazing viewpoints. If at the end of the visit there is some more time available do not forget to visit the town: you will be really satisfied of it.

Villa Melzi d’Eril, a pearl on the lake

Villa Melzi is in the beautiful scenery of Lake Como and precisely it is located in the city of Bellagio. Thanks to its terraces, floral species and landscape it represents one of the most beautiful villas to visit.

Villa Melzi d’Eril between History and Culture

Designed by the architect Giocondo Albertonelli and commissioned by Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril, it shows inside some neoclassic decoration  mainly due to the influence of its architect, although  also painters like Andrea Appiani, Giuseppe Bossi, Alessandro Sanquirico and sculptors such as Antonio Canova, Giambattista Comolli and Pompeo Marchesi  had a leading role in embellishing the villa.

Villa Melzi d'Eril

In addition to the splendid house there is a chapel, an orangery, and a beautiful English garden dotted with statues, monuments and relics designed by Luigi Canonica and Luigi Villoresi.

The Moorish kiosk, used in the past to have tea and to listen to music, keeps inside the busts of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria and Empress Marianne di Savoia, the Duke Ludovico Melzi and his wife Josephine Melzi Barbò; in shades of white and blue, it has a wonderful view not only on the Lake but also on the monument to Dante and Beatrice.

Villa Melzi d'Eril garden

The Majesty of Villa Melzi d’Eril’s gardens

Inside the gardens full of azaleas and rhododendrons, rare and exotic plants, hedges of Camellia you can stroll comfortably along the paths flanked by rows of plane trees that offer moments of coolness; there are numerous  views in these walks but, for those who want to enjoy the Lake from a panoramic view, there is a clearing with a tub of water lilies and various sculptures and statues of Apollo and Meleagro.

Giardini di Villa Melzi d'Eril

Between plants and exotic species, a fine setting is offered by some bamboo and a rock garden with plants and flowers that are renewed every year; thanks to the blend of their colours, they create a scenic effect.

Villa Melzi d'Eril chapel

Those who visit villa Melzi d’Eril must also see the Chapel, the greenhouse and the former orangerie, now converted into a museum with relics of the Napoleonic period, archaeological artefacts and Renaissance frescoes.