The Villa d'Este, originally Villa del Garovo, is a Renaissance patrician residence in Cernobbio on the shores of Lake Como. Since 1873 the complex has been a luxury hotel.

Gerardo Landriani, Bishop of Como (1437–1445), founded a female convent here at the mouth of the Garovo torrent in 1442. A century later Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio demolished the nunnery and commissioned Pellegrino Tibaldi to design a residence for his own use. The Villa del Garovo, together with its luxuriant gardens, was constructed during the years 1565–70 and during the cardinal’s lifetime it became a resort of politicians, intellectuals and ecclesiastics.

On Gallio’s death the villa passed to his family who, over the years, allowed it to sink into a state of some decay. From 1749 to 1769 it was a Jesuit centre for spiritual exercises, after which it was acquired first by Count Mario Odescalchi and then in 1778 by a Count Marliani. In 1784 it passed to the Milanese Calderari family who undertook a major restoration project and created a new park all’Italiana with an impressive nymphaeum and a temple displaying a seventeenth-century statue of Hercules hurling Lichas into the sea.

After the death of Marquis Calderari his wife Vittoria Peluso, a former ballerina at La Scala and known as la Pelusina, married a Napoleonic general, Count Domenico Pino and a mock fortress was erected in the park in his honour.

In 1815 it became the residence of Caroline of Brunswick, estranged wife of future King George IV.

It was converted into a deluxe hotel for the nobility and the high bourgeoisie in 1873, and kept the name Villa d'Este to take advantage of the apparent link with the famous Villa d'Este in Tivoli, near Rome.

A gala dinner held at the Villa d’Este in 1948 was the scene for the celebrated murder of the wealthy silk manufacturer Carlo Sacchi, shot dead by his lover Countess Pia Bellentani with her husband’s Fegyverzyar automatic pistol.

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Founded: 1565-1570
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Marija Djordjevic (2 years ago)
Outstanding place on Lago di Como. Beautiful mansion with breathtaking gardens.There is a restaurant with a lake view.
Deepak M Reddy (3 years ago)
Lovely, One of the best hotels near Lake Como. Excellent staff, Expensive.
Jeffrey Perren (3 years ago)
Our friends describe Villa D'Este as a slice of heaven on earth, and it is. The attentive staff, period decor and ample amenities set along the shore of Lake Como has been unmatched by any other place during our travels in Europe. We spent hours at the floating pool, enjoyed dining at three of their restaurants, and danced lakeside until the morning each night. We walked among the gardens, toured the battlements, trained in the gym and relaxed in the spa. We watched others ski, sail and canoe on the lake. We opted for boat excursions to Bellagio, Como and Nesso.
Peter Gandle (3 years ago)
Disclaimer: I was there for a wedding, not a guest. That being said, the grounds are incredible and the staff seemed very attentive, capable and friendly. Definitely worth looking into if your going to lake Como
Virginie De Noyette (3 years ago)
Very nice place to be. You should have seen it... Haven on earth! But... The restaurant 'veranda' was not worth the price : nice plates but completely tasteless... I wouldn't recommend it. Sorry...
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