A trip to Italy's northern lakes promises to be a holiday filled not only with peace and tranquillity, but with plenty of fascinating places to explore too.
In Tremezzo, on the sunny banks of Lake Como, is an exquisite white villa, with views of Bellagio against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Villa Carlotta is a must-see for anyone visiting this idyllic part of Italy. Inside its gates you'll find a captivating combination of nature and art.
This beautiful building was constructed in the late 17th century by Marquis Giorgio Clerici of Milan. It later passed into the hands of a wealthy politician, Giovanni Battista Sommariva, who devoted his time to collecting art, filling the halls of Villa Carlotta with impressive sculptures and paintings.
The villa became an important stop on the Grand Tour, drawing intellectuals from all over Europe who came to see the fine art collection and fascinating botanical gardens.
Today, Villa Carlotta houses an impressive museum with a collection of statues, paintings, and original neoclassical furniture, with valuable masterpieces by Francesco Hayez, Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen.
The gardens here are as impressive as the house itself, with blooms of bright azaleas and rhododendrons, ancient trees and towering palms. There's also an Italian garden with manicured hedges, shaded pergolas, orange and camellia trees, and a peaceful bamboo garden.
The good news is it's very easy to visit Villa Carlotta. The museum and gardens are open from March to November between 10am and 7pm and the €12 entry tickets give you access to both, along with a self-guided audio tour so you can learn more about the villa's intriguing history. You can also explore the villa on Good Housekeeping's exclusive tour of Italy's lakes.
There's a lovely little coffee shop to be found inside an ancient conservatory in the grounds, where you can stop for lunch and enjoy the jaw-dropping views across the lake.
You can reach Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta by car, taking the state road towards Menaggio from Como. But the most scenic way to travel to the villa is to take a boat from Bellagio, which will bring you right to the steps of the Villa in just 15 minutes, while you soak in the glorious Lake Como vistas.
Visit Villa Carlotta on Good Housekeeping's eight-day tour of Italy's wonderful lakes, which also takes you to Milan, Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore, and to Switzerland's nearby glacial Lake Lugano.
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