Villa d’Este

In the amazing repertoire of historical villas on Lake Como, Villa d’Este is absolutely unique. Built in 1568 in the lakeside village of Cernobbio as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, it has a long history of succeeding owners, all committed to constantly enriching the property by the addition of new architectural and botanical wonders. The 25-hectar park is the quintessence of landscaping art and architecture: its various owners exercised their personal tastes with works that remain a testimony of an extraordinary and complex history.
In 1815, the villa was purchased by Carolina of Brunswick, spouse of the future king of England, George IV: it was the princess who added exquisite furniture and works of art in the property, as the villa also hosted a multitude of luxurious parties.
The exceptional scenic access boulevard, dating back to its original construction, is lined with a series of small waterfalls, leading to a water lily-filled pond: on the other side of the boulevard, the Marquis Calderaia commissioned a small neoclassical temple to host a grouping of marble statues from Ercole and Lica.
In 1808, to celebrate recent military accomplishments in Spain, Vittoria Peluso commissioned a series of unexpected towers and fortifications built on the rocky spur dominating the villa’s park. These were reached by a path of small passageways and bridges, surrounded by deliberately wild vegetation. But it is especially to Carolina of Brunswick that the fame of the original site, as well as additional enhancements to the park inspired by her romantic sensitivity, is mostly attributable. Her interventions added to the symmetry of the park, uniting the otherwise disparate features of wildness, sculptures, ruins and grotesques.
Another moment of great splendour for the villa, in 1868, can readily be attributed to Maria Fendorowa, Czarina of Russia, who for several years regularly organized many sumptuous evening receptions with fabulous decorative lighting and fireworks.
Finally, in 1873, the Villa d’Este was converted into an international luxury hotel, maintaining the charm of its original furnishings, and it is still today a preferred location for important and international politicians, bankers and entrepreneurs. Its exquisite Italian garden adds to the memorable beauty of this unique location.
An impressive 500-year old sycamore has actually been standing guard on these evolving changes over the centuries, as hundreds of guests including queens, empresses, cardinals, entrepreneurs and heads of state have enjoyed its refreshing lakeside shade.

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