Experience the magical atmosphere and splendor of Villa d'Este
The magical place of Villa d'Este, by the beautiful Lake Como, known for its splendor and home to many stars and business magnates, was originally known as Villa del Garovo. The now luxury hotel was originally the home of the Bishop of Como since the sixteenth century.
The building was once a female convent, founded by Gerardo Landriani, but this was later demolished by Tolomeo Gallio and he commissioned the Italian Mannerist architect, sculptor, and mural painter Pellegrino Tibaldi to design a residence for him. The villa was constructed around 1565 and took five years to complete. Just like today, it was also once the place to meet with politicians, intellectuals, and ecclesiastics. After Tolomeo Gallio had passed away, it was left to his family, who unfortunately let the estate decay. It has since been through several ownerships, including several Counts, until the renowned Milanese Marquis Calderari and his beautiful ballerina wife Vittoria Peluso, who danced at La Scala, restored the house and the park. Lastly, the property belonged to the estranged wife of the future King George IV Caroline of Brunswick, whom the place was like an enchantment. She created the layout of the English garden and renamed the house; Nuova Villa d'Este.
From 1873 and onwards the Villa was converted into a luxurious hotel, known as the hideout of movie stars, kings and queens, the bourgeoisie and jet set. The hotel could be the perfect setting for a Hercules Poirot story or a backdrop to one of Danielle Steels infamous books. Magical and old-worldly, the hotel seems to stay in style, instead of opting to convert itself to a fancy boutique hotel that quickly goes out of fashion. Just to highlight the fantastical setting, the Villa also took part in an intense evening of murder, when a wealthy silk manufacturer Carlo Sacchi was shot dead by his lover Countess Pia Bellentani, using her husband's automatic pistol. If walls could speak!
The rooms are designed with splendor and style, richly decorated fabrics, historic pieces of artwork on the walls and a beautiful mahogany wardrobe. The marble bathrooms entail a bath series decorated with a blue-flowered print including a shampoo series blended with oil that leaves your hair silky-smooth. Every evening our bathroom would include a bouquet of roses in a new shade of pastel. When we arrived the room had a Romanesque-like tray of grapes, chocolate, and champagne, setting the scenery and entrance onto the balcony with one of the best views of Como. The evening light and the sunset was captivating and awe-inspiring. We also tried one of the hotels mahogany speedboats from the sixties, taking us to the Villa del Balbianella where films such as James Bonds Casino Royale and Star Wars was filmed. We experienced a guided tour that unraveled the story of the breathtaking house lastly owned by the explorer Guido Monzino, the 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 redecorated, installing important pieces of English Georgian and French antique furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, Beauvais tapestries, French boiseries and Oriental carpets alongside artifacts acquired on his expeditions.
Together all the impressions of Villa d'Este will last for many years to come, but we won't wait for that long until our next journey to the magical place, where you instantly feel at home.
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