Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo is a site of rare beauty and a not-to-be-missed destination when visiting Lake Como.
In 1600 the Marquis Giorgio Clerici built a splendid mansion in a natural basin between the lake and the mountains. This imposing yet sober residence, surrounded by an Italian garden, stands before the breathtaking scenery of the Grignes Dolomites and Bellagio.
The villa's second owner, Giambattista Sommariva, was the man responsible for bringing the mansion to the height of its splendour in the 19th century, by enriching it with works of art and turning it into a veritable museum. The most important works housed in Villa Carlotta include important sculptures by Antonio Canova and his school, along with paintings by Francesco Hayez. Sommariva also transformed part of the garden into an extraordinary, romantic park.
In April and May Villa Carlotta offers a veritable sea of multi-coloured azaleas, arranged in tall rounded cushions along select paths. The effect of this charming, flowery path is remarkable, both for the variety of its colours and the size of the shrubs.
The bamboo garden, over 3000 square metres in size, was inspired by the principles and techniques of the art of Japanese gardens and is home to over 25 species of bamboo, including some rare varieties, in an environment of great harmony between waterfalls, streams and stone structures.
The garden known as Giardiano Vecchio (Old Garden) is perhaps the most romantic spot. This large parkland still retains its 19th-century appearance, with a central walkway and massive plane trees. This is also where you'll find the fontana dei nani, or fountain of the dwarves, built in baroque style with steps and waterfalls.
Visitors should also look out for the beautiful and charming valley of ferns, the rock garden, the outdoor theatre and the forest of rhododendrons.
In an attempt to keep the memory of farming techniques used in the past by generations of skilled gardeners alive, a public display of interesting antique farm tools has been set up in the greenhouses of Villa Carlotta.