Villa Monastero - Offering the quintessential Lake Como experience
Villa Monastero is one of many magnificent villas on the shores of Lake Como. The villa is a historical site in Varenna, a commune in the Province of Lecco and one of the popular towns among tourists visiting Lake Como.
A building with a rich history housing a museum with a gorgeous botanical garden and a convention center, Villa Monastero is a beautiful place to visit to appreciate the full essence of northern Italy. Known for its alluring design and breathtaking views, it is an ideal choice for anybody looking for a refreshing travel and discovery experience that exceeds all expectations. The villa hosted more than 209,000 visitors in 2022.
Varenna is a picturesque town renowned for its colorful buildings and stunning panoramic views of the lake, making it a perfect retreat for visitors.
The town features historic churches, steep cobblestone streets, and a wonderful promenade on the edge of the lake. All across the commune, you'll find a variety of authentic Italian restaurants offering delightful cuisine and wine along with decadent Italian ice cream.
In addition to housing Villa Manastero, other points of interest in and around Varenna include Villa Cipressi, another famous villa that's now a hotel you can stay in during your trip, and Castello di Vezio, a 12th-century castle on an elevation with sublime views of the lake and mountains.
Villa Monastero has a rich and varied history. The villa was built in the 12th century as a Cistercian monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. By the mid-16th century, the property was acquired by the Mornico family, who owned it for over three centuries, during which time it was known as "Villa Leliana." Ownership of the villa was subsequently transferred between different aristocrats, including Walter Kees and the De Marchi family of Milan.
In 1862, Pietro Genazzini, an engineer from Bellagio, purchased the property and carried out multiple renovations before selling it to Milan noblewoman Carolina Maumari, daughter of Swiss silk merchant Giovanni Maumari.
In 1939, the last private owners, the De Marchi family donated the villa to the state. The Province of Lecco is now responsible for managing the property which currently houses a museum known as "Casa Museo." The museum offers a glimpse into the property's eight centuries of history, culture, and architectural styles.
Inside the villa, you will see an interior design of eclectic styles with an overlapping of different stones with Classical, Baroque, Medieval, and Renaissance architectural elements. The villa showcases original decorations in rooms over its two floors, with some rooms conserving the architecture of the 17th century in all its glory, including exquisite marble and sgraffito incised walls.
The 17th-century architecture is particularly well preserved in its Red Room (reception room) and Mornico Sitting Room (the old office of the family).
Villa Monastero also has a conference center for hosting a variety of conferences, workshops, and scientific events. The rich blend of architectural styles provides the perfect backdrop for these events.
Villa Monastero is renowned for its splendid botanical garden that extends for almost two kilometers along the lake. Home to many rare plant species, including citrus, agave, dracaenas, and yuccas, it is a feast for the eyes. It also includes avenues with cypresses, cedars of Lebanon, majestically manicured hedges, and decorative architectural elements such as vases and balustrades.
Facing the oriental branch of Lake Como, the garden offers a picturesque and serene environment to explore. The garden is also home to some wonderful features, including the waterfront loggia, which serves as the public entrance to the garden.
Walter Kress, who constructed the loggia, expanded the garden to its current size. He was also responsible for the Moorish Pavilion, a charming structure with a Mauritian influence located at the far end of the garden.
Opening Hours and How to Get There
Villa Monastero has different opening hours depending on the season. The villa is open from March to December, usually between 10 a.m. and 7:30p.m, with some dates excluded during this period. You can get more information about the calendar from the villa's official website.
You have various options for getting to the villa. You can take a scenic drive to Varenna from Milan or a relaxing train ride to Varenna-Esino, the local train station that's only a 13-minute walk to the villa.
However, if you want the quintessential Lake Como experience, you should consider arriving at the villa via a boat.
You can take a Lake Como boat tour to Villa Monastero with stopovers at other villas around the lake to experience the true Dolce Vita! With many options available, from prestigious classic Riva boats to Venetian limousines, take your time to select what works best for you.
Put simply, Villa Monastero offers captivating visuals and an environment that is majestic and rich in culture. It is a must-visit destination for those on an expedition to Lake Como.