Driving alongside Lake Como you’ll spot many a fancy villa with beautifully preened gardens closed off behind 10ft gates and, perhaps, a security guard.
There’s something enchanting about old villas, especially when they’re the size of Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo. I love a good nosey around someone else’s house and out of all the villas we passed while on holiday in Lake Como, Villa Carlotta captured my interest.
Set in over 70,000 squared metres of land, Villa Carlotta and the botanical gardens are the perfect place to while away an afternoon.
History of Villa Carlotta
The villa was built at the end of 17th Century by a man named Giorgio Clerici from Milan. Built amongst the stunning scenery of Lake Como and the Dolomite mountains, Clerici’s architect created an impressive building and decorated the garden with sculptures, stairs and fountains.
In 1801 a famous politician and businessman, Gian Battista Sommariva, bought the villa and turned it into a temple of 19th Century art. From here on, Villa Carlotta (not yet known as this) became one of the most important places on the ‘Grand Tour’. The Grand Tour was a traditional trip of Europe taken by the upper-middle class European young men. The Grand Tour flourished from about 1660 until the 1840s and was associated with a standard itinerary.
In 1843 Sommariva’s heirs sold the villa to Princess Marianne of Nassau, Albert’s of Prussia wife, who, very generously, presented the building to her daughter Carlotta upon her marriage to Georg II.
Today, the garden’s are what really steal the show. Often described as a piece of heaven there are so many species throughout, there’s always something in bloom.
Inside Villa Carlotta
Whilst slightly disappointed to find that most of the rooms in the house haven’t been kept as they would’ve looked back in the 19th Century. I always like seeing the rooms set up; probably because I’m nosey, and probably because it’s just easier to imagine what it could have been like.
However, there’s still plenty to see and stare at in awe including impressive sculptures and paintings. and every window has a stunning view, whether on to the gardens or the lake.
There’s a lovely old lift (just so long as you trust it!) to take you to the upper floors where there are art exhibitions throughout the year. This year it’s all about Expo Milano and the focus on food with old adverts decorating the walls.
The Gardens of Villa Carlotta
The gardens, the real highlight of a visit to Villa Carlotta, are arranged in a geometrical schema and even have their very own waterfall, cacti garden and Chinese inspired bamboo area.
Winding upwards into the mountains, the gardens provide many an area to rest and take in the incredible views on to the lake.
The walkway under the orange trees and the tiny turtles sunning themselves on the rocks were my favourite parts of this tranquil garden.