Lake Como has always been one of Italy’s best and most luxurious vacation spots. Its shores, in fact, in earlier times, were frequented mainly by the wealthy Italian and European nobility, with artists, politicians, or men of letters who used to gather in these splendid villas on Lake Como.

Many of these sumptuous homes were purchased by people of high status, who decided either to move there altogether or to turn it into their summer residence. Others, however, have remained in public ownership, so if you are looking for a different itinerary than usual, plan a trip to discover the villas on Lake Como.

Here is our selection of the villas to visit on Lake Como!

Discovering Villa d’Este in Cernobbio

Treat yourself to a walk through the “Best Hotel in the World”: the Villa d’Este in Cernobbio was so named by the prestigious Forbes magazine in 2009. Indeed, it has, over the years, hosted such illustrious figures as the world’s leading royal families, such as the Windsors and the Grimaldis of Monaco, as well as prominent figures from the world of entertainment, such as Greta Garbo, Liz Taylor, and Madonna.

This ancient Renaissance mansion, also called the Villa del Garovo, was originally the summer residence of Tolomeo Gallio, cardinal of the city of Como. Upon his death, Villa d’Este passed into the hands of the cardinal’s family, who, by not caring for it, brought it to a state of decay.

The villa, for years, passed from hand to hand until it was purchased by a Milanese family, the Calderari, who rolled up their hands by putting in place a major restoration project with the creation of a new Italianate garden.

In 1814 it became the residence of Princess Carilina of Brunswick, who gave it its current appellation of Villa d’Este. She, through extensive renovations, restored the villa to its splendor by making it a majestic neoclassical structure.

In 1873 Villa d’Este became a luxury hotel on the initiative of Giulio Belinzaghi, mayor of Milan at the time, and some Italian senators. The facility can only be visited by hotel guests or during public events, such as the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este held every year in May.

Visiting Villa Erba in Cernobbio

Among the villas of Cernobbio could not miss Villa Erba, one of the most important villas on Lake Como. It was built at the behest of Luigi Erba, brother and heir of Carlo Erba, one of the most important pharmaceutical industrialists of the time.

The structure was designed by Angelo Savoldi and Giovan Battista Borsani with the aim of manifesting the richness and importance of the Erba family.

When Luigi died, the villa was inherited by his daughter Carla, who married Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone. From the marriage was born Luchino Visconti, a famous director, who spent his last years in the family villa and there edited the film Ludwig.

Subsequently, the villa was purchased by a public consortium that built a conference exhibition complex. Villa Erba in Cernobbio can be visited during public events or with private tours by request prior to the day of the visit from 9 am to 6 pm.

Have you ever heard of Villa Bernasconi?

This beautiful building in Art Nouveau style was commissioned by the entrepreneur Davide Bernasconi to Milan architect Alfredo Campanini. The location of this structure, however, is not left to chance; in fact Villa Bernasconi was built near the family-owned silk production plant in Cernobbio.

The structure, for several years, passed through the hands of numerous owners until it was acquired by the Comune of Cernobbio same. It is currently a freshly restored gem that houses a museum facility inside.

Described as a “house that speaks“, as the villa fully expresses to the history of the Bernasconi family through historical documents and amazing multimedia content. Over the years, it has also become an important cultural center, capable of providing an unprecedented setting for art exhibitions, events and weddings.

Even the exterior of Villa Bernasconi were designed down to the smallest detail; Campanini was able to integrate materials and forms with perfect harmony, going so far as to make the facade of the building a work of art itself: in fact, all the architectural elements are embellished with real sculptures representing the life cycle of the silkworm.

Discover the charm of Villa Pizzo

This villa, named “Villa Pizzo”, was built in Cernobbio at the behest of the Como merchant Giovanni Muggiasca, who purchased a large piece of agricultural land rich in vineyards and olive groves, which stretched from the lakeshore to the top of the hills.

The last Muggiasca to inhabit the villa was Giovanni Battista, who later became bishop of Como, and to whom much of the furnishings Neoclassical of the villa, including the small marble monument in the park and dedicated to Alessandro Volta.

In the following years, a certain engineer Bonzarini purchased the structure on behalf of the vinceré Ranieri of Hasburg, who transformed it into the home of his wife Maria Elisabeth Savoy of Carignano.

In 1865 Villa Pizzo was purchased by Madame Mousard, the eccentric queen of Parisians. She was forced to leave the house, which was later taken over by the Milanese Volpi Bassani family.

Among the villas on Lake Como, Villa Pizzo seems to be a logical continuation of Villa d’Este. It is composed of a long series of terraces, and toward Moltrasio its garden thickens more and more, until it becomes an intersecting system of paths and minor trails, at the edges of which it is possible to admire a water cave, pools, streams and the false ruins of a small classical temple.

You can visit the villa by reservation; the cost of the visit is 15.00€ per person and includes a guided tour in Italian.

We hope that this virtual visit to the Villas on Lake Como Made you want to visit them firsthand. If you want to plan your next vacation exploring the Villas in Cernobbio, book one of our comfortable apartments: La Corte di Zizi is at your complete disposal!