VILLA CARLOTTA: A Taste of 19th Century Living on Lake Como

sketch Villa Carlotta 2015     Villa Carlotta is one of the must-see villas on Lago di Como (Lake Como), and one of the few that allow the public to visit and to take photos. The villa and adjacent gardens are a fine example of the Italians’ quest for perfect harmony between building and nature. First constructed in the at the end of the 17th century for the powerful and wealthy Clericis family from Milan, which is about an hour drive to the south, it was the next owner, Gian Battista Sommariva, a popular and successful politician, businessman, and arts patron, who brought the villa up to its full potential with his collection of art masterpieces and completion of the surrounding gorgeous and extensive gardens. The name Carlotta actually comes from a later owner who was endowed with the villa as a wedding gift from her mother, Princess Marianne of Orange-Nassau, who had acquired the villa in the 2nd half of the 18th century, and it was Carlotta’s husband, Georg, who made many improvements and additions to the gardens, making it into the famous botanical gardens it is today. Unlike many villas on Lake Como, Villa Carlotta is not privately owned. After World War I, the villa was confiscated from its German owners and was made into a non-profit organization.
Presently, Villa Carlotta is a museum and often used for weddings, concerts, and special exhibitions. During my visit, there was a wonderful exhibit of modern abstract glass.   With its elegant and imposing facade, period interiors, and colorful and fragrant gardens, Villa Carlotta was an important stop on the Grand Tour (a traditional educational rite of passage for aspiring young European and American aristocrats to learn about classical history). The villa is located along the lakefront in the Lake Como resort town of Tremezzo, and is a short boat ride across the lake from Bellagio. The gardens spread out along the hillside on both sides of the villa, and are said to contain over 500 species of trees and flowers and 500 species of azaleas I never realized there could be so many!
One of the attributes that I truly love about Italian villas along Lake Como is the plethora of statues of noble men and women that are placed along the rooftops, or, as in the case of Villa Carlotta, on top of columns that are spaced along the grand enclosing gates and fences. It’s as if the occupants wanted to be sure they were always being watched over by some existential power from the heavens. Lago di Como, I am continually amazed at how beautiful this place is!

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Tremezzo, Lago di Como

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta Entrance Fountain

Villa Carlotta Entrance Fountain

Villa Carlotta Entrance Fountain

Villa Carlotta Entrance Fountain

Villa Carlotta Entrance Fountain

Villa Carlotta Entrance Fountain

Villa Carlotta Entrance

Villa Carlotta Entrance

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Wall Sconce

Villa Carlotta Wall Sconce

Villa Carlotta Terrazzo Floor

Villa Carlotta Terrazzo Floor

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior Ceiling Detail

Villa Carlotta Interior Ceiling Detail

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Interior

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta Garden

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

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