Gorgeous estate, incredible views, movie set, weddings, and more Villa Balbianello is a “MUST-SEE” while visiting Lake Como. September 2022 I had the privilege of visiting Menaggio just down the road from the villa. The Villa Balbianello makes for a great day trip either by boat or by car.
How to get there?
Thankfully, the Villa is within driving distance from Menaggio, just a 15 minute drive. Visiting by boat is another option to see the Villa and many travelers decide that this way is the nicest way. An opportunity to be on the water and arrive in style for their tour. Here is a bit more information on a small group tour. This tour includes a Venetian style boat and a glass of Prosecco.
Boat Tours range between $90 per person to $320 per person for a full-day tour depending on the transportation and what the tours include.
Visiting the Villa
Katy and I decided to wing it and we bought our tickets 48 hours before. I did purchase the first slot available for the day which was 10 a.m., we got the last two tickets and we only were able to book walking the grounds of the villa. Tours inside the villa and around were completely booked prior to our arrival. Lesson learned.
We truly did enjoy our walk around this majestic property and its views.
PARKING is tricky. We parked as close to the grounds as we possibly could. Getting to the Villa is a bit interesting. The road all the way to the Villa is closed. Parking is not available near the property. We parked in one of the only places left to park and walked to the back entrance and then on the paved sidewalk to the Villa Entrance.
We learned there was an additional path to and from the Villa that included a hiking trail. Being the adventurous type, we decided we would return to the parking lot along the hiking trail. Really spectacular views and we loved this trail.
Tour of the Villa & Grounds
A tour of the beautiful and romantic villa is a special treat for your Como visit. As of 2019, over 135,000 people visit every year. On special nights in the summer Villa Balbianello, Lake Como hosts an evening in the garden Sunset in Balbianello that includes a drink, finger foods, and a first plate with a serving of gelato too. It is typically around €50 for tourists and €40 for residents. For more information on special events, be sure to bookmark this page. Reservations are mandatory, you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our walk around the gardens did not take long, but we did take our time. We spent a few hours walking the grounds and taking photos.
Villa Balbianello VLOG
History of the Villa
This Lake Como villa is a Hollywood movie set magnet and was host to two very popular movies, James Bond, Casino Royale and Star Wars – Attack of the Clones (the wedding location for Anakin and Padme.) In Lake Como, almost two dozen films have used the natural beauty and background for unforgettable movies like Alfred Hitchcock’s Grand Hotel, A Month by the Lake with Uma Thurman and many more.
Built in the eighteenth century, Villa Balbianello, Lake Como was built on the ruins of a Franciscan church by a Cardinal. The Cardinal owned a nearby Villa, the Villa Balbiano. He bought the estate on the peninsula to enlarge his expanding property. Additionally, an American, Butler Ames was completely taken with the villa when he visited Europe for in 1911. Next in line to purchase the property. Ames was also an Army Officer who became a member of the House of Representatives and served from 1903-1913.
In 1974, Guido Monzino purchased the villa. He was an entrepreneur who was also an explorer and mountaineer. Guido focused on shaping the way the villa and the gardens look and it pretty much looks the same way today. Eventually, in 1988, the Villa Balbianello was given to the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) to be managed and maintained. The FAI is a non-profit organization that is the Land Trust of Italy. Today, this villa on Lake Como is available for family and corporate events and is also open for guided tours.
Where to next?
After our tour of the villa was complete Katy and I decided to make our way to Bellagio. Another popular town on the other side of the lake. It was a short drive to the parking lot to catch the ferry to Bellagio. There is a fee to park and ferry over, but not much. Be sure to have loose Euro coins ready for machines.
As you can see the Villa Balbianello, Lake Como makes a great half-day trip. You can easily add one more excursion, tour, or lounge by the lake to your day. So stay tuned for Varenna and Bellagio, our next stops in Lake Como.
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