Villa Olmo is a magnificent late 18th-century neoclassical mansion overlooking the southwestern arm of Lake Como. Today, the former home of aristocrats and the wealthy elite is now a venue for important art exhibitions and other cultural activities. See works by great European artists and then enjoy a stroll through its beautiful baroque garden.
The villa dates back to 1797, when Swiss architect Simon Cantoni built it for the wealthy Odescalchi family. Among the famous historical figures to have spent some time are the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the Italian military leader Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The villa boasts a stylish and photogenic façade, dominated by a colonnaded entrance and grand columns. Look above the entrance to see a carved coat of arms and statues of gods. Step inside for the chance to see frescoed rooms decorated in opulent period furniture. They host a roster of temporary art exhibitions and celebrate the work of famed artists such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. Previous exhibitions have included artistic representations of the city of Como and works by Italian futurists such as Giorgio de Chirico.
Take time to walk around the villa’s baroque garden, which stretches down to Lake Como. Note the symmetrical design of the manicured lawns and trees. The garden’s centerpiece is a fountain adorned with sculptures of mythical sea creatures and cherubs.
Situated on the southwestern shores of Lake Como, Villa Olmo is a pleasant 20-minute walk from Piazza Cavour. Public buses stop nearby and metered parking is available on the street that leads to the entrance to the garden. The walk from Piazza Cavour runs along the waterfront and passes other major city attractions, including Volta Temple, a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta who invented the battery.
The villa and garden are open every day except Monday and major holidays. There is an admission fee for the exhibitions and tours are also available. Entrance to the gardens is free. During the summer, combine your visit with an afternoon at the Lido di Villa Olmo, a beach club with two pools, a natural beach and boat rental.