Get ready to be captivated by the beauty of Villa del Balbianello. Located atop a hill in the affluent Northern region of Italy, near Lake Como, the villa stands out with its architecture, proximity to the Alps, and a view where light dances with water; but mostly with a garden that exhibits a slightly different beauty than the typical Italian gardens.
Balbianello is one of the most visited places in the region on account of its magnificent location, romantic architecture and lush gardens. Contrary to other properties around the lake which were built by noblemen in the 13th century, Balbianello was built as a monastery and was converted to a residence in the 19th century. The property’s infrastructure and estate were restored by the last owner, Italian explorer Count Guido Monzino, and because there were no legal heirs, the villa was donated to the National Foundation after Monzino’s death.
It has since been used as a film set in movies such as Star Wars II and Casino Royale, but it is also one of the world’s most sought-after wedding venues as well as a museum waiting to fascinate its visitors with its jewelled gardens. The interiors showcase a myriad of arts, furnitures, and collections from all over the world. Balbianello is accessible by boat or a one-kilometer trek starting from the town of Lenno; however, access from the water allows guests to better observe the size and beauty of the property. Wearing comfortable shoes is also key in having a pleasant experience while exploring the villa.
In the 19th century, Como became a commonground where exotic plant enthusiasts and gardeners met. The shores of the lake were being transformed by wealthy Italian families who were eager to build their properties. At the time, owning and displaying rare plants in Europe was a symbol of status and noblemen and merchants were more interested in presenting their gardens than their houses.On account of the region’s warm climate and acidic soil, plants from Himalayas and China blossomed perfectly. The gardens surrounding Lake Como, Balbianello’s being the most beautiful among them with many exotic plants, look like a golden strip around the lake boasting the wealth of their owners. In addition to its diverse flora, the building’s plant-covered terrace as well as its highly-perched position makes the garden appear grander and even wealthier than it is.
The estate requires intensive care to maintain its magnificence. Most of the trees here get their final looks by pruning. Two gardeners who have been caring for the garden for the past 30 years complete the trimming and pruning work in four months. Most of the work done on these trees requires meticulous care and the use of scissors rather than pruning equipment, which gives an idea about the attention that goes into the work.