There is lots to see on Lake Como so if you have time to spare after your visit to Villa Carlotta, take a relaxing stroll around some of the neighbouring locations.
Villa Melzi is in Bellagio and easy to reach by boat, leaving from the lake front of Villa Carlotta. In just ten minutes, the ferry docks in the centre of the village, with its welcoming bright-coloured buildings and a cheerful, busy square.
On the right, the avenue that leads to the destination: an understated residence built in the early nineteenth century for Francesco Melzi d’Eril (1753–1816), duke of Lodi, vice president of the Italian Republic under Napoleon and, subsequently, Grand Chancellor of the Italian Kingdom.
The villa is not open to the public, but the surrounding gardens are breath-taking for their elegance and variety of botanical species present.
Villa Balbianello is in Lenno, a ten-minute car or bus (c10) journey, or a half-hour walk along the Greenway, a panoramic stroll but be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
The elegant residence was built at the end of the eighteenth century by Cardinal Durini, a scholar and patron. The last owner, Guido Monzin, made the villa a treasure trove where he collected the memories of his varied, adventurous life, and which he bequeathed to the FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano upon his death.
A single day is not long enough to see everything, but anyone interested in a pilgrimage will discover fourteen devotional chapels, leading to the Sacro Monte della Beata Vergine del Soccorso, located in Ossuccio, which is also in the municipality of Tremezzina.
Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Succour, it is one of the nine sacred mounts of Piedmont and Lombardy that UNESCO added to their World Heritage Sites in 2003. The sanctuary offers a stunning lake view. But be sure to wear comfortable shoes for the 2km walk from Villa Carlotta
Lake Como’s only island is immersed in lush greenery and home to numerous churches, including one of the most remarkable eleventh-century basilicas: Sant’Eufemia. According to tradition, it was built by Saint Abundius, bishop and patron of Como. Still known as “castél”, the castle, the island was a fortified citadel, with houses and churches surrounded by tall walls.
It sided with Milan against Como in a ten-year war, until 1169 – annus horribilis – when it was razed to the ground by the allies of Barbarossa. Even today, this event is commemorated on the feast day of Saint John, in June, during an event involving the whole lake.