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

Marcos (2 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 (2 months ago)
We loved the botanical gardens, one of the most iconic scenes in Lake Como… and of course the view.
Roberto Galentino (4 months ago)
No words fot such Unique and fascinating place. TRY if available souflles and zabajoione ... Superbs Roberto& Loretta
Juliette Badalian (4 months ago)
Had a drink, asked the stuff where the bathroom was, few minutes later, while I was washing my hands, two male workers followed me inside the female bathroom to see what I was doing. Why is this considered an appropriate behavior from the stuff? What exactly was I supposed to be doing in a female bathroom that would need to be checked by not even one, but two (!) male (!) workers? If I had questions - I’d find someone to ask them; if they wanted to be available for help - they should’ve waited outside. Can’t believe this is considered a 5-star hotel ??‍♀️
Andrew S (5 months ago)
Absolutely amazing. This place is spectacular in every way and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a upper class peaceful retreat on Lake Como.
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