The waterfront Villa Carlotta holds a collection of fine art featuring works by Antonio Canova and Francesco Hayez, as well as a glorious garden that blooms with sweetly scented flowers and shrubs. Browse the bounty of art inside, wander around one of Europe’s best displays of colorful flora and steal a moment’s peace in the traditional Japanese bamboo garden.
Villa Carlotta was built at the end of the 17th century for a Milanese marquis, but takes its current name from a Prussian princess, who received the house as a gift upon her marriage to Georg II of Saxen-Meiningen in 1850. Nowadays much of the house remains as it would have been in their time. Period furniture, some superb artworks and the breathtaking gardens are enough to keep most visitors occupied for an afternoon.
Explore the grand halls, reception rooms and master bedrooms and marvel at the sumptuous décor. Gold-lined mirrors, handcrafted ornaments and frescoed tables give the interior a resplendent feel.
Find an array of magnificent paintings and sculptures displayed around the villa. Pieces by Hayez, Thorvaldsen and Canova feature heavily with particular highlights including Hayez’s The Last Adieu of Romeo and Juliet and Canova’s mesmerizing depiction of Terpsichore, the goddess of dance.
Step out from the dark wooden halls into the fabulous botanical garden and stroll between rows of flowers and lush shrubs, which are just meters from the clear water of the lake. Walk around the maze-like network of pathways and enjoy the smell of the fragrant orange trees and the bright colors of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.
Don’t miss the bamboo garden, found further away from the house. Hidden among the trees, this peaceful enclave covers an area of 9,842-square-feet (3,000-square-meters) and contains 25 species of bamboo, many of them extremely rare.
Villa Carlotta is located in the small commune of Tremezzo on the western shore of Lake Como. It is open every day between March and November and there is a small admission charge. If you are coming from elsewhere around the lake, catch the Cadenabbia car ferry to Tremezzo.