Today we are off to Bellagio for a day of boating fun. Bellagio is by far the most touristy of the three villages we have spent time in. Walking to the right from the ferry, we find souvenir shops and tourist traps galore. These shops are not so much my cup of tea so we walk on to the beautiful Villa Melzi Gardens, filled with exotic plants and flowers and Neoclassical sculpture right along the lake front. We walk the entire length of the garden, to the concrete pool that now sits empty. The walk along the white pebbled garden path is outstanding!
Our next stop is the Enotecha Cava Turacciolo, for a wine tasting. (to boost my nerve to get on the speed boat you see)
At the Piazza Mazzini dock, where the wooden boats of the Bellagio Water Taxi are docked, we check in with Jennine and Luca.
Luca’s boat is immaculate and gorgeous. Take off those spiky-heeled shoes please, do not mar the brilliantly restored mahogany wood! We zoom to the villas along the lake; past Richard Branson’s villa, (Virgin Airlines owner) past a huge sign in front of a villa that reads “No George”, meaning this is not the villa of George Cluny, as some believe. Villa L’Oleandra, George’s villa is located in Laglio, Italy, on the western shore of Lake Como.
We depart our speed boat at Villa del Balbianello, for an English speaking tour of the villa and grounds. Situated on a romantic promontory overlooking Lake Como, the villa, built for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, at the end of the 18th century, sits on the property of a former old Franciscan Church. Be sure to see the inconspicuous door inside the villa that leads to an underground tunnel, an escape route for the Cardinal, that ended up in the hills above the villa. After passing through the hands of many owners, who each placed their own personal touch to the villa and gardens, it was bought by Guido Monzino. Today the villa consists of his vision, and art collection of landscapes painted on glass (utterly unbelievable) and his mementos of his expedition to the North Pole and Mount Everest. Monzino was the leader of the first Italian expedition to climb Mt Everest and has dedicated an entire floor of the villa to this collection. In 1988 he died, leaving the villa as it was when he owned it, to the Italian National Trust. I found especially interesting the lower floor apartment, designed for his mother, who lived with him, and the modern kitchen on the ground floor. Also, his gardeners were left stipends for the rest of their lives, with the directions to maintain the grounds as they were when he lived there. Note the tree that is so large, the gardeners must climb inside it to prune it and keep it in it’s lovely shape. The villa and grounds have also been the choice for movie directors. It was filmed for movie scenes for Casino Royale, a James Bond thriller, and Star Wars: Episode II. Truly, a must see at Lake Como! Enjoy my video of the boat trip from Bellagio!
For Information about Villa del Balbianello and Enoteca Cava Turacciolo see: TripAdvisor
For more info about the Water Taxi Tours see: http://www.bellagiowatertaxis.com
For more info about the Villa Melzi Gardens see: http://www.giardinidivillamelzi.it