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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Details

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

Douglas Fleming (8 months ago)
Bucolic setting on Lake Cuomo. Great access to hamlets along the lake via water taxi. The corner room we resided proffered exquisite views of the lake and grounds. In mid October, very few visitors were staying at the Villa and made for a pleasant and easy going experience. The smaller restaurant on site, though the staff was very attentive lacked in delivering a fine dining experience. If you have the means, make the hotel a part of your stay or visit to the lake.
Marcos (12 months ago)
Never felt more comfortable. Service, food, style and overall feeling is top notch and not comparable to nothing else. Grazie mile
Claire Dante (12 months ago)
We loved the botanical gardens, one of the most iconic scenes in Lake Como… and of course the view.
Adele Gladys (13 months ago)
Villa d'este is one of the most amazing places we've ever been !!!!
Christopher Cumingham (13 months ago)
lovely. a bit of a rip off but still lovely.
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