Regulars on the Central Lake ferry cannot help but admire the Gardens and Villa Melzi as they pass it. I have to admit that I may have gazed at it twenty times before I discovered its name, and a further twenty until I actually visited to take a closer look. The majesty of this neoclassical building, completed in 1810, is strikingly enhanced by the English style gardens which reach all the way down to the shore. The backdrop of the mountains offers a somewhat rugged contrast to the well-ordered symmetrical building and the impeccably kept gardens.
This impressive villa was the Summer home of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Italian vice-president from 1801-1803, who commissioned the project to the architect Giocondo Albertolli. Francesco Melzi d’Eril frequently hosted important guests; politicians, artists, musicians and other people of culture, including Franz Litzst and Stendahl who were clearly inspired by the majestic setting.
A visit to the Gardens and Villa Melzi can provide inspiration for almost anyone. The rhododendrons and azaleas; the Japanese style lake; the museum in the orangery; the chapel overlooking the tiny harbor of Loppia; the greenhouse; the variety of trees including the grand entrance where plane trees stand to attention to greet you, all conspire to fill you with joy and wonder at the beauty of nature. I have to say that the gardens have so many hidden treasures that I have surely missed many of them. Statues, monuments and artefacts, even a Venetian gondola, and two precious Egyptian statues, are featured in the gardens alongside the rare exotic plants and decorative hedges.
The villa itself boasts a huge terrace with statues of four lions as well as the glorious marble statues of Apollo and Meleagro. Inside the villa artefacts include paintings, busts, furniture and decorations, reinforce Francesco Melzi d’Eril’s reputation as a passionate collector of that time.
The Gardens and Villa Melzi are open from 9:30am to 6:30pm but it is a good idea to check the website or call +39 339 457 3838 to check before going.