©Franco Papetti




Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Duke of Lodi, Vice-President of the first Italian Republic and personal friend of Napoleon, decided to build a summer residence in Bellagio at the beginning of the nineteenth century, on a site with an incredible view. Giocondo Albertolli, the trustworthy architect of their Milanese home, was given the project of the villa whilst the park was entrusted to Luigi Canonica with the agronomist Luigi Villoresi, who had already designed Monza Park.

The neoclassical villa was finished in 1810 and owes part of its fascination to the park bordering the lake as well as the devices adopted to optically increase the limited space, squeezed between the bottom of the hill and the lake. A water-lily pool greets the visitor, followed by a Moresque kiosk with an enchanting view towards Bellagio and, facing it, the monument to Dante and Beatrice by Comolli, which inspired Liszt’s Sonata to Dante. Along the lake shore, beside a Pinus montezuma, there is an ancient Egyptian statue of the Goddess Pacht and others from Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign.

A stroll along the avenue of plane trees, pruned to umbrella shapes, leads to the terrace in front of the villa, framed by antique sculptures. The family chapel, designed by Albertolli, marks the end of the garden with its neoclassical monuments. The orangery is now a museum of memorabilia and prints from the first Italian Republic. Exotic and rare species alternate with secular trees, camellias, rhododendrons. Amongst the more valued plants are Liriodendron tulipifera, cedars of Lebanon, copper beeches, camphors, Ginkgo biloba and others, of botanic and historic value, all labelled to add interest for visitors.

Villa Melzi d’Eril
Lungolario Manzoni
22021 Bellagio
CO, Italy

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