Villa Melzi

Villa Melziis reached by walking through the English garden harmoniously lining the lakeshore on the last outcropping of the Bellagio peninsula, separating the two branches of Lake Como.
The villa, its chapel and its orange tree conservatory – today a historical museum – are all to be found in this garden, each representing a magnificent expression of the neoclassical style, and therefore listed as national monuments.
The complex was constructed between 1808 and 1810 for Francesco Melzi d’Eril (1753-1816), Duke of Lodi and vice president of the Italian Republic with Napoleon.
The project was commissioned to architect Giocondo Albertolli, a leading representative of neoclassicism, tasked with designing a simple and elegant villa which would emphasize the magnificent surrounding landscape.
A long sycamore-lined pathway begins at the private dock; plantings of giant azaleas and rhododendrons surround the villa itself, while also enclosing small hidden corners such as an artificial grotto and a small Japanese-style lake called the “little lake of water lilies”. Various statues and busts in classical style stand in the flowerbeds close to the villa, as well as on the balcony looking out towards the mountains.
In the orange grove adjacent to the villa there is a small museum with Napoleonic artefacts – affirming Count Melzi d’Eril’s loyalty to Napoleon – as well as war booty from the Egyptian campaigns in the last years of the 18th century; visitors particularly appreciate the Egyptian statues of a dignitary from the court of Ramsete II (circa 1230 BC), and a lion-headed war goddess.
One approaches the villa along a boulevard lined with umbrella-shaped sycamores. The large terrace in front of the villa presents a panorama of the central part of the lake, as well as evidencing the harmony and simplicity of the edifice itself, accessed via a scenic stairway guarded by four austere lion statues.
The park has been carefully cultivated, levelling part of the land while forming small hills in order to make it seem larger than its actual size. Scattered among the trees there is a variety of Egyptian, Roman-Etruscan, renaissance and neoclassical sculptures.
The park of Villa Melzi is open to the public everyday from March 28th to October 30th, from 9:30am to 6:30pm.

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