Next door to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Via Regina is the Villa Carlotta museum and botanical gardens which was built in 1690 for Marquis Giorgio Clerici, a silk merchant and banker from Milan. From 1801 the Villa was owned by Giambattista Sommariva and the romantic landscaping of the gardens was developed in the 19th Century. Subsequently, in 1843, the Villa was a wedding gift for Georg II of Sachsen-Meiningen and Carlotta, from her mother Princess Marianne of Nassau. If you fancy a bit of culture and you enjoy beautiful gardens, Villa Carlotta is a must.
I have to admit that during my first visit to Lake Como I managed to resist the Villa Carlotta. It was in August and I saw bus-loads of visitors being dropped off at the gates. For me that was quite a deterrent. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit in October when I could wander around the place completely in my own thoughts and enjoy the splendor of a bygone era. I have been told that in Spring and early Summer the gardens are even more beautiful, but I am an Autumn girl and I love the colours and smells of that season.
The grand Villa Carlotta covers a vast area, 70,000 square metres, and can been seen clearly from the lake as you take the ferries between the villages and towns in Lake Como’s Golden Triangle. I had taken so many photos of it during my Summer trip that I felt the urge to investigate more closely. The gardens present you with a fully fledged botanical landscape with a variety of styles, plants, statues, fountains, walk ways, even topiary; I love those ducks (or are they swans?)! Famous for its azaleas and rhododendrons, there are also magnolias and fruits to admire. Plus of course, several hundred species that I am unable to name given my limited grasp of botany. In October I was especially interested to see the variety of mushrooms growing in the woodlands; I am sure there is something fascinating to see in all seasons at the Villa Carlotta. Just make sure you wear comfy shoes!
I would also recommend a visit if you happen to have a rainy day during your stay. Inside the Villa there is a wealth of art works. The architecture, the staircase, the ceiling frescos, especially the ‘the Fight of the Sun in the Olympus’ (approximately 119 square metres), masterpieces such as the last kiss of Romeo and Juliet, works by Canova, Hayez and Thorvaldsen, and so it goes on. Something for everyone.
Most days the Villa is open from 9am until 7:30pm, but please check the website for the Winter schedule or telephone +39 0344 40405. Enjoy!