Villa Melzi d’Eril

Bellagio, Lake Como | C.1808

Photo Credit: Valeria Claudia Orlando

Overlooking the picturesque Lake Como in Bellagio, Italy rests the Villa Melzi d’Eril. Built between 1808 and 1810 the villa is adorn in a neoclassical style and was decorated and furnished by the famous artists of the time.

Francesco Melzi d’Eril, who was the duke of Lodi and vice president of the Italian Republic with Napoleon, commissioned the build to be utilized as his extravagant summer residence. He entrusted the task to the architect and decorator Giocondo Albertolli to build him a spectacular getaway. Later in his life, this is where he would retire from politics and stay until his death.

The simple and geometrically articulate façade of the villa is complimented by a double flight of steps and four lions carved in Egyptian style. Flanking the sides of the terrace and the parterre overlooking the lake are two statues in marble from the sixteenth century representing Apollo and Meleager. Each were crafted by the talented sculptor Guglielmo della Porta.The grounds also consist of a chapel in the south-western end of the property where the remains of the Melzi family rest.

The Villa is not open to the public, however the meticulously kept gardens surrounding the villa can be accessed and explored for a small fee. Astonishingly, the gardens extend for 800 meters along the coast of the lake between the village of Bellagio and the hamlet of Loppia. The English style gardens house rare and exotic plant species that combine their colors and unique shapes to create a fairytale atmosphere.

There is also a small exhibition space for visitors to explore in what was formerly the orangery – a greenhouse where the orange trees were housed and recovered during the winter months. This small exhibit contains precious relics from the Napoleonic period including bust of Napoleon, the keys of the city of Milan, prints of the Napoleonic Milan, the cannons of the first Italian campaign of 1796 and two Renaissance frescoes of Lariana origin. Although the main Villa may be off limits, there is certainly a lot to discover within the Villa Melzi d’Eril.

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