Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello

The Balbianello complex is one of the most harmonious examples of the villa and garden, whose fascination derives from the overall effect rather than any particular detail.

Situated on Dosso di Lavedo, one of the few promontories on Lake Como, the villa dates to the 18th century, the period that saw the explosion of the sociocultural phenomenon known as the “pleasure-house”. In this case, the genius loci was the Milanese cardinal Angelo M. Durini who, after spending long periods abroad as papal nuncio, decided to spend his last years in one of the most pleasant places in Lombardy, with the Lake of Diana (Gulf of Campo) on one side and the Lake of Venus (Lenno) on the other.

Although he already owned Villa del Balbiano, the prelate wanted an almost isolated site, where he could receive frivolous personages, but also philosophers and men of letters like Abbot Parini, who dedicated an ode entitled Gratitude to him. 

The place was enhanced also by its subsequent owners the Porro Lambertenghi and Arconati Visconti families, and the explorer Guido Monzino who decorated the villa with furniture and works of art collected during his travels.

He was in fact the first Italian man that reached the summit of Everest in 1973, and just a couple of years earlier he took part in an expedition that took him to the North Pole. In 1988 he donated the villa to the F.A.I, adding to his will a clause concerning the desire to prune every year the large oak that stands in front of the window of the room that he used as a study to plan his expeditions.

The garden’s role was as important as that of the house, but it could not adhere to formal post-Baroque principles because the natural setting was unsuitable for this.

A landscape layout was adopted, which is still maintained today. The arboreal heritage is impressive ilex, plane, magnolia, cypress, pine, beech trees, some of which sculpted in topiary. There is no lack of scented plants (Wisteria and Osmanthus) and everyone admires the Ficus pumila in the portico beneath which it is said that Durini liked to sit and sip his coffee.


Villa del Balbianello (FAI) 

Via Comoedia 5 22016 Lenno FAI - Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano 

Tel. 0344 56110

Email faibalbianello@ 

Tratto da “I GIRADINI”, Grandi Giardini Italiani ( – CCIAA Como, Provincia di Como. Intera guida consultabile all’indirizzo

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