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Villa del Balbianello is a beautiful villa with terraced gardens, panoramic views, and a long history. It is on the Laredo headland next to the town of Lenno.
Balbianello sits high on a hill, surrounded by thick woods and water, and can be accessed through a footpath or by boat.
It has played host to some influential and Nobel people over the centuries and remains one of the most famous residences in Lake Como, Italy.
One of the most famous properties around, thousands of visitors come each week to explore the grounds. From transportation, ticket options, and historical information, this guide includes everything you need to visit Villa del Balbianello.
History of Villa del Balbianello
The villa was first owned and built by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini in 1781. Before that, the only thing located on the peninsula was a Franciscan monastery from the 13th century.
He came here to get away from the big city and loved to host friends and study. It was in his possession until 1796, when it was passed down to his nephew. For over 100 years, the villa was passed along to several owners and eventually fell into extreme disrepair.
In 1919 the villa was purchased by Butler Ames, an American businessman who spent a small fortune to renovate the property to its former glory.
Finally, it passed into the hands of the Italian explorer Guido Monzino. He filled the home with artifacts from his many expeditions and rare pieces of English and French furnishings. He even added a secret underground passage that connects the main buildings to the Loggia.
Today, Villa del Balbianello is owned by the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italian), a historic preservation organization. The villa is now open five days a week to visitors and private tours. You can even rent it out as a luxury wedding venue.
How to Get to Villa del Balbianello
There are a few ways to get to Villa del Balbinello, but it can be tricky depending on where you are coming. Here is a detailed breakdown of you to get to Villa del Balbianello from nearby towns.
Ways to Get to Villa del Balbianello
- From Varenna or Bellagio to Villa del Balbianello:
- You will first need to take the ferry to the town of Lenno. From there, it is about a 30-minute walk to the villa. Next, you will walk around the city’s edge to a small parking area at the front of the property. From there, it is an uphill journey through a treelined path to the villa entrance.
- If you do not want to walk, you may be able to find a taxi to take you from Lenno. If you have a car with you, you can take it across the lake on a ferry and drive from Lenno to the villa entrance.
- A third option is to take a water taxi from Lenno straight to the villa. This is the most scenic of the three options!
- From Mennagio or Tramezzo:
- Since both of these towns are on the same side of the lake as Villa del Balbianello, you can get to Villa del Balbianello by taxi. Ask your hotel concierge to call one for you! Once you reach Lenno, you will walk around 1.5 miles to the villa around the edge of the town. If you do not feel like walking, taxi boats can take you straight there.
- You can also take the ferry to Lenno, but it will take much longer than traveling from Varenna or Bellagio due to the routes’ routes.
Most Popular Forms of Transportation
Walk from Lenno
The town of Lenno is just around a 20–30-minute walk from the villa’s entrance. Once getting to the edge of town, you will take a marked trail through the forest to the villa entrance. Just a heads up, it is uphill the entire way!
Take a Water Taxi
There is a boat dock at the bottom of the villa. The primary way to get here is using the Lenno taxi boat service that can take you to and from the property. You will then follow a winding path around the church to the villa’s entrance.
Use a Car
There is a small parking lot at the foot of the property. Parking here is free, and you can also find some street parking. You will have a 10-minute uphill hike through the forest to get to the entrance.
Villa del Balbianello Tours and Tickets
Villa del Balbianello Hours
- Open from Mid-March to Mid-November
- Opening Times: 10 am – 6 pm (Last admission at 5 pm for gardens and 4:30 for villa tours)
- Closed Mondays, Wednesdays, and holidays
- Garden Tickets: Adults €11, Children €6, National Trust Members and Students €9.
- Garden and Villa Ticekts: Adults €22, Children €12, National Trust Members and Students €16.
The Garden and Villa ticket includes a 1-hour tour. Tours are offered in English and Italian and are in small groups of up to 15.
We only waited 10 minutes for our tour to begin, but depending on what time of year you visit Villa del Balbianello and the number of people, it may be longer. You can choose your timeslot in advance if you purchase your ticket online.
You can buy tickets at the entrance or online at www.villabalbianello.it
Touring Villa del Balbianello
The Main Building
The villa consists of two buildings and a church. The larger main building of the 18th-century mansion comprises 25 rooms and houses artifacts worldwide. It is adorned in a mixture of furnishing dating back to the 1600s. The top floor of the villa, which sites above ground, was the main living area, with guest rooms, a kitchen, and an entertainment area below.
The main floor library has a spiral staircase that leads up to another room dedicated to his explorations. Guido, who led the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest, has an extensive collection of items from his travels displayed up there.
The entire main building is five levels and built into the rocks. What makes this property unique is that with each level, the number of rooms gets less and less as they dig further into the rock. The actual main door of the villa is on the bottom floor, closest to the water and just in front of the boat dock.
A fun fact about some of the rooms is that they have fake windows. Since several rooms are carved in the rock wall, fake windows with hidden lights behind them were made to give the illusion of light.
The beautiful terrace is where you will get some of the best views and pictures of the villa. It was built perfectly parallel to the peninsula on which it sits to give guests panoramic views of the lake. The Loggia terrace is between a music room and library.
It is also where many weddings are hosted. Unfortunately, there was a wedding taking place during our visit. Thankfully, once our tour was over, the party had moved to the reception, and we could go up and look.
Villa del Balbianello in Film
Villa del Balbianello was first made famous as being the setting of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It was then later featured in the James Bond Casino Royale movie. Used as a private hospital, there are several filming locations for the Bond film, including the outside lawns where he spends much of his time recuperating.
Weddings at Villa del Balbianello
The stunning mansion is easily one of the prettiest places to get married in Lake Como. Weddings are extremely popular here, for obvious reasons! There was even a wedding taking place during our visit.
The ceremony took place on the Loggia, followed by a reception in a private ballroom covered in moss and floor-to-ceiling windows. Due to the ceremony, our tour guide started us by touring the main building. By the time we finished, the ceremony had ended, and we could explore the beautiful views of the lake from the Loggia.
Weddings here are not as pricey as you may think! Small weddings during visiting hours start as low as 2,000. Of course, larger weddings after hours can cost a pretty penny.
Places to Stay Near Villa del Balbianello
Hotel Il Perlo Panorama
This hotel has private gardens and a terrace for guests to enjoy. If you are interested in cycling around the lake, this hotel is great. They are very knowledgeable about the best paths to take and offer guided bike tours and rentals.
Make sure to take advantage of their restaurant, which offers outdoor seating with a spectacular view. After 5:00 pm, a wine expert will also be available for wine tastings!
Mid-Range: Check Availability | Location: Bellagio
Named after Queen Victoria, who visited in 1838, this beautiful hotel is full of historic charm. It offers several types of rooms and four suites to choose from.
The Royal Victoria also has two restaurants and three bars for guests to enjoy. The best part about your stay is that the concierge will help you plan out an itinerary or suggest the best places to visit and dine.
Mid-Range: Check Availability| Location: Varenna
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
If you want to stay in a luxury hotel, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo is as luxurious as it gets. The hotel contains multiple types of rooms to choose from and eight rooftop suites with private terraces overlooking the water.
Guests can enjoy access to their full-service spa, three pools, a private beach, and a park. The most popular area for guests is the “floating” pool that sits in the middle of the lake.
Hotel Tremezzo has many dinner choices for guests. For a fine-dining experience, the Gualtiero Marchesi offers only the best Italian dishes.
Try the T-Pizza bar outside in the gardens for a more laid-back option. Make sure to take advantage of the many bars around the hotel and wine cellar.
Luxury: Check Availability| Location: Tremezzo
Airbnb is another popular option in Lake Como. There are numerous wonderful homes in town, near the water, and up in the mountains.
Many people like to book an Airbnb when staying in Lake Como for longer periods of time because many include kitchens, multiple bedrooms, and private outdoor areas. Airbnbs can also be a less expensive option than some of the hotels.
Villa del Balbianello is an exquisite property in the heart of Lake Como. One of the most well-known villas, I highly recommend adding it to your itinerary.
I hope this guide will help you visit Villa del Balbianello during your travels! For additional things to do in Lake Como, check out some of my Lake Como posts below.
Enjoyed this post? Here are some other Italian destinations!
- The 8 Best Day Trips from Florence
- Visit Florence Italy: Best Places to See, Stay, and Eat
- Travel Guide: How to Spend 3 Days in Florence
- Florence vs. Rome – A Detailed City Comparison
- 125 Captivating Rome Quotes to Inspire You
- Rome Travel Guide: How to Plan the Perfect Trip
- Travel Guide: How to Spend 3 Days in Rome
- Visit Rome on a Budget: Tips and Free Attractions
- Visit the Beautiful Medieval City of Siena, Italy
- Palio of Siena: Guide to the City’s Historic Race
- Three Days In Lake Como Itinerary
- Top 12 Best Things To Do in Lake Como
- Top Things to do in Varenna, Lake Como
Other Italy Posts
- 20 Most Beautiful Cities in Italy You Need to Visit
- The Complete Italy Travel Guide
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- 30 Traditional Italian Foods to Try in Italy
Travel Planning Resources
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT |Skyscanner is the top search engine for finding and booking flights. They price check over 1,200 travel sites to help you find the best prices.
VIEW ACCOMMODATIONS |For booking hotels and vacation rentals Booking.com is a top resource . They offer some of the cheapest rates and different payment options.
- Rental Car: RentalCars.com is my go-to site when booking rentals. They work with 900 companies worldwide to help you find the best car for your needs and budget.
- Trains: Rail Europe is the leading company in Europe for train travel in Europe. They help you easily book passage by looking at routes, timetables, and prices for 50 different train companies.
- Bus: Omio is an easy website to use for booking train and bus tickets. Similar to Skyscanner, the website looks at hundreds of transport companies to get you the best deals.
SCHEDULE YOUR TOURS | There are many top companies available in Europe. Get Your Guide is one of the best sites for tours, excursions, and activities. Viator is another terrific website for all types of experiences.
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE | Having travel insurance is always a good idea. World Nomads is one of the top travel insurance companies. It will cover you if you must cancel your trip or if something unexpected happens.
Check out the resource page for additional travel planning resources.
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Villa del Balbianello is famous for its elaborate terraced gardens, and has been featured in a number of famous movies including: A Month by the Lake; Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones; and Casino Royale.How much does it cost to visit Villa balbianello? ›
FAI members: free entrance. Full price: € 11,00. Children (6-18 years): € 6,00. National Trust members and students up to 25 years old: € 9,00.Is Villa del Balbianello worth visiting? ›
Villa del Balbianello will leave you breathless, thanks to its beautiful terraced gardens and picturesque structure. Located on the tip of the promontory of Lavedo, in Lenno (a hamlet of Tremezzina), the villa offers breathtaking views of Isola Comacina and the western shore of Lake Como.Is Bellano worth a visit? ›
Bellano is a small town on the Eastern shores of Lake Como, less famous that its nearby neighbour Varenna but still well worth a visit. The history of Bellano is rather rich and dramatic.Why is Lake Como so special? ›
The lake is famous for the natural beauty of its setting and for the handsome villas on its shores. Among the many noted lakeside resorts are Como, Lecco, Bellagio, Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Varenna. Several towns are connected by steamer services.What is so special about Lake Como Italy? ›
Lake Como is the most profound lake in Italy
In the old days, the lake was called “Lario”, which means “deep place”. Lake Como is the deepest in Italy, which explains its ancient name. Lake Como's depth is about 410 meters (1,345 feet), and it's the most profound lake in Italy and one of the deepest in Europe.
How many days should I spend in Lake Como? I'd suggest to spend at least 3-4 days, because there are a lot of towns and things to see and you will need time to experience Lake Como at its best.Do you need tickets for Villa del Balbianello? ›
Villa del Balbianello is open to the public, but you will need a ticket to visit here. There are two options: visiting only the gardens or the gardens and the interior of the villa. Most people will only see the gardens. And the reason for that is simple – the inside of the villa can only be visited with a guided tour.Is 2 days enough in Lake Como? ›
Ideally, spending at least 2 days in Lake Como will give you enough time to visit some of the most iconic towns, explore Como city and spend a bit of time wandering around a villa.Which part of Lake Como is the nicest? ›
Many people consider the steep hillside village of Varenna to be the most heavenly of all the towns on Lake Como, preferring the charming fisherman's houses to the showier villas and grandeur of neighbors like Bellagio.
Villa Balbianello has been recently made very popular for two international movies. in 2002 it was chosen to be the villa of Star Wars Episode II, where the main characters fall in love. In 2006 it was the location set for the movie James Bond Casino Royale.Was Star Wars filmed at Lake Como? ›
Director George Lucas shot scenes from "Star Wars" Episode 2 in the Villa Balbianello in Lenno on Lake Como. Lucas has hardly changed this location! You know immediately where he shot which shot. The only exceptions were the two dome-like buildings that you see in the film from the lake.What city is closest to Lake Como? ›
Situated in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, close to the Swiss border, Lake Como is just an hour from Milan and is well connected to it by rail service – both from Como on the southwest corner and from Lecco, Varenna-Esino or Colico on the east side of the lake.Is Como town worth visiting? ›
Como is home to some of the best attractions in all of Lombardy, and it is worth a visit even for a simple stroll through the streets of the center. It is an ideal destination both for those visiting Lake Como for a day and for those staying longer.What is the main town in Lake Como? ›
Arguably Lake Como's most famous town, Bellagio is extremely pretty. Narrow alleyways and cobbled streets are festooned with flowers that spill over from the window boxes above.What is the best month to visit Lake Como Italy? ›
LAKE COMO'S CLIMATE | Key features
The best time to visit Lake Como and its surrounding areas would be from April to October, when the weather gets warm and mild.
A VERY SPECIAL BREAD
Consider that the city of Como has always been famous for the bread, the so called “Pan de Comm”. The most frequently bought one was the “pan gros” or “panatel”, a rounded shape bread.
While you don't really need a car in Lake Como and both parking and driving is limited there, you could even take your can on selected ferries. That said, make sure you book a hotel with a parking spot, otherwise, you'll be in trouble.What celebrities are in Lake Como? ›
A place of glorious sunshine and gentle pleasures, Lake Como, Lago di Como in Italian, has been a popular retreat for wealthy people since Roman times, and many celebrities and A-listers own or have owned villas on its shores, such as George Clooney, Madonna, Richard Branson, Sylvester Stallone, Gianni Versace, Matt ...Where do you fly into for Lake Como? ›
The nearest airport to Lake Como is Milan Malpensa International Airport. From the airport you can take the Malpensa Express to Saronno and from there take a train to Como. The journey takes 1 hour and 30 minutes or 2 hours depending on the time interval for the change. The price is around 18 Euros.
Yes, it is possible to travel from Como San Giovanni to Venice without having to change trains. There is 1 direct train from Como San Giovanni to Venice each day.Is a week in Lake Como too long? ›
Many think that Lake Como is a good stop for a couple of nights and then they should move on but they are mistaken. 2-3 days are not enough to explore Lake Como and its surroundings! Lake Como is the perfect location for a longer stay – even a week or more – in Northern Italy.Do you need cash in Lake Como? ›
Since 2001 the currency used in Italy is the euro.
In addition to cash, you can pay for your purchases using the most common credit cards.
Opening hours 2022
From 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. continuously. Last entrance to visit the Park at 17.00. Last entrance to visit the interior of the Villa, with a guided tour of about 60 minutes, at 16.30. Guided tours are conducted in Italian and/or English language.
To visit Villa del Balbianello, you have to take the ferry to Lenno; then you can reach the Villa in just about 15 minutes walking, or with a taxi boat.How much money do you need in Lake Como? ›
How much money will you need for your trip to Como? You should plan to spend around €171 ($182) per day on your vacation in Como, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, €48 ($51) on meals for one day and €11 ($12) on local transportation.How to spend 4 days in Lake Como? ›
- Use the ferry to get around.
- Explore Bellagio.
- Hike in Varrenna.
- Drink a bellini and rent a boat in Moltrasio.
- Explore the Villa Carlotta.
- Walk through Lenno and visit the Villa Balbianello.
You can see the town itself in just a few hours, so you can even visit Bellagio as a day trip from Milan. But if you want to experience the best of Lake Como, you should stay in Bellagio for at least 2-3 days.What is the most picturesque town on Lake Como? ›
Bellagio. A highlight of any trip to the shores of Lake Como is undoubtedly a day (or two, or three) in Bellagio. Set conveniently between the two southernmost branches of the lake, the town is made up of steep winding paths where pastel-coloured houses provide peripheral pops of colour.What is the cutest village in Lake Como? ›
Menaggio is one of the most picturesque little towns on Lake Como. It doesn't have any famous villas or gardens that you absolutely have to see, so here you are really coming for the charming lakeside village itself. To us, Menaggio felt like one of the most relaxed places in the Lake Como area.
Bellagio is better than Como Town if you want to stay a small quaint village, less nightlife scene but nice restaurants and winebars. Located right at the center of the Y-shaped lake, Bellagio boasts almost panoramic water views.Where is Luke Skywalker's house in real life? ›
Hotel Sidi Driss, Matmata, Tunisia
Built centuries ago by indigenous Berbers, this subterranean cave homes were converted to a hotel which George Lucas used as Luke Skywalker's childhood home in the original "Star Wars" film.
Rey finally finds Luke Skywalker on the remote planet of Ahch-To, where he's settled on a rocky island. That location is none other than Skellig Michael in Ireland, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastic complex there dates back to the seventh century, and it plays a role in the movie.Where was Harry Potter filmed? ›
The Harry Potter films were filmed in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Many real-world locations were used for scenes in the movies, including Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and more. Other scenes were filmed and put together digitally at the Warner Bros film studio just outside of London.What actor lives in Lake Como Italy? ›
George Clooney regularly spends the summer months on Lake Como in his 25-room Villa Oleandra in Laglio, only about 15 minutes from Como. The village of Laglio is a sleepy nest at noon. The Villa Oleandra, the holiday residence of the Hollywood film star, also presents itself from its backward side.Can you swim in Lake Como? ›
Yes, you can actually swim in Lake Como. Some pebbled beaches of Lake Como are known to harbour the most swimmable waters to exist – but should you? As swimmable as the waters are, it is also considered by a handful minority to not be the most 'ideal' place to do so, for several reasons.Can you visit Villa Balbiano? ›
Villa del Balbianello is open for Visitors from November to mid March. A ticket to the garden costs currently 8 Euros. A a guided tour of the villa will cost you 17 euros.Where is the best place to stay in Lake Como? ›
Bellagio – best town to stay in Lake Como for sightseeing & luxury. For many, Bellagio is the best town to stay in Lake Como. It's one of the most famous locations on the lake and is well-known to be a luxury location.How far is Como from airport? ›
Lake Como is one of the most impressive of the famous lakes you can find in the Lombardy region. Located only 21 miles (34 km) away from Milan airport, it's a perfect day trip destination from the Italian fashion capital.Is Lake Como in Italy or Switzerland? ›
Lake Como, Italy
From Milan to the foothills of the Alps, spectacular Lake Como in Italy is the heart of Italian romance and history. Located in Lombardy, the lake has an area of 146 square kilometers, which makes it the third-largest lake in the country, just after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore.
The hydrofoil takes 45 minutes to one hour to travel from Como to Bellagio and/or Varenna. The slow boat takes up to two to three hours to travel from Como to Bellagio and/or Varenna. Click here for the official Lake Como ferry website and for updated prices.Why is Como so popular? ›
Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times, and a very popular tourist attraction with many artistic and cultural gems. It has many villas and palaces such as Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni, and Villa Carlotta.Do people speak English in Lake Como? ›
Languages: Italian, but you'll find that the locals of popular destinations like Lake Como speak English quite well.Is Lake Como fancy? ›
Lake Como offers the ultimate in Italian luxury – a gorgeous lake surrounded by green hills, picture-perfect villages, and sumptuous lakeside mansions. It's known as the playground of the jet set, and has been attracting visitors for thousands of years.What is the history of Villa Balbianello? ›
The villa was built on the ruins of a Franciscan church by the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini at the end of the eighteenth century. Durini owned the neighbouring Villa Balbiano and bought the promontory to enlarge his estate. Thus, the name Villa Balbianello.Who lives in Villa Balbianello? ›
This elegant and romantic 18th century mansion, now owned by FAI, has hosted writers and travelers up to its last owner, Guido Monzino.Was Star Wars filmed in Lake Como Italy? ›
Lake Como. Remember Anakin and Padma's wedding scene in Attack of the Clones? It was filmed at the famous Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como. This exquisite location with magnificent gardens became the planet of Naboo according to Lucas' story.How many days do you need for Lake Como? ›
How many days should I spend in Lake Como? I'd suggest to spend at least 3-4 days, because there are a lot of towns and things to see and you will need time to experience Lake Como at its best.What celebrities live on Lake Como? ›
A place of glorious sunshine and gentle pleasures, Lake Como, Lago di Como in Italian, has been a popular retreat for wealthy people since Roman times, and many celebrities and A-listers own or have owned villas on its shores, such as George Clooney, Madonna, Richard Branson, Sylvester Stallone, Gianni Versace, Matt ...Does George Clooney own a villa on Lake Como? ›
George Clooney first purchased this Italian villa which was constructed in the 18th Century. It's located in Laglio, Italy, on Lake Como, in 2002. The actor stated that “I realized how beautiful life was in Italy and how it really helped calm me and not feel so pressured.”
Book in advance, as tickets sell quickly, especially for the villa tour. Group sizes are small & viewing the villa inside is only possible on the official guided tour lasting 45 minutes. Tickets for the gardens are easier to get as these aren't with a guide, but bookings are still by time slot.