A Franciscan monastery had existed on the tip of the peninsula of Dosso d'Avedo since the 13th century. The two towers which remain on the property are the campanili of the monastery's church. After failing in his attempts to buy the nearby Isola Comacina Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini purchased the property in 1785. In 1787 he converted the monastery building into a villa for use during the summer and added a loggia, which allowed viewers to otain two different panoramas of the lake.
After the cardinal’s death in 1796, the villa passed to his nephew, Luigi Porro Lambertenghi. During Lambertenghi's ownership the villa became a seat of republican activity and members of the Carbonari met here to discuss the unification of Italy. Among Lambertenghi's guests at the villa were the writer and patriot Silvio Pellico, who tutored Lambertenghi's sons. In 1820 Pellico was arrested at the villa by the Austrian government which forced Lambertenghi to move to Belgium, where he was supported by the Arconati Visconti family.
Lambertenghi subsequently sold the villa to his friend, Giuseppe Arconati Visconti, grandfather of Luchino Visconti. Visconti made improvements to its gardens and the loggia. To this day the balustrade in front of the church bears the Visconti emblem of a serpent with a man in its mouth. During the period of Visconti ownership the villa hosted politicians and writers Giovanni Berchet, Alessandro Manzoni, Giuseppe Giusti, as well as the artist Arnold Böcklin. The gradual decline of the family resulted in a lack of interest in the villa, which for more than 30 years was left to fall into a state of neglect.
Just prior to the commencement of World War I American businessman Butler Ames saw the villa for the first time. He made an offer to purchase it from the Arconati Visconti family and was initially rejected. He kept returning with ever larger cash offers until in 1919 he was successful in obtaining ownership. Ames renovated the villa and its garden.
In 1974, Ames's heirs sold the villa to businessman and explorer Count Guido Monzino (leader of the first Italian expedition to climb Mount Everest. While Monzino left the exterior essentially unchanged he had the interior of the villa completely re-decorated, installing artifacts acquired on his expeditions as well as important pieces of English Georgian and French antique furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, Beauvais tapestries, French boiseries and Oriental carpets. In addition after the assassination of Aldo Moro in 1978 by the Red Brigade. Monzino worried that he may be on their list, added a system of hidden passages, linking parts of the property.
Monzino died in 1988 and left the villa along with most of the Dosso d'Avedo and an endowment to pay for maintenance, to the Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano, the National Trust of Italy. Its grounds now form part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani.
Today the Villa del Balbianello is the most visited among the 52 FAI properties with over 90,000 visitors in 2015.References:
The Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite was one of the seats of the Court of the Kingdom of Navarre, since the reign of Charles III 'the Noble' until its conquest by Castile (1512). The fortification is both castle and palace, although it was built more like a courtier building to fulfill a military function.
On an ancient Roman fortification was built during the reign of Sancho VII of Navarre (13th century) and extended by his successors Theobald I and Theobald II, which the latter was is installed in the palace in 1269 and there he signed the consent letter for the wedding of Blanche of Artois with his brother Henry I of Navarre, who in turn, Henry I since 1271 used the palace as a temporary residence. This ancient area is known as the Old Palace.
Then the palace was housing the Navarrese court from the 14th until 16th centuries, Since the annexation (integration) of the kingdom of Navarre for the Crown of Castile in 1512 began the decline of the castle and therefore its practically neglect and deterioration. At that time it was an official residence for the Viceroys of Navarre.
In 1813 Navarrese guerrilla fighter Espoz y Mina during the Napoleonic French Invasion burned the palace with the aim to French could not make forts in it, which almost brought in ruin. It is since 1937 when architects José and Javier Yarnoz Larrosa began the rehabilitation (except the non-damaged church) for the castle palace, giving it back its original appearance and see today. The restoration work was completed in 1967 and was paid by the Foral Government of Navarre.