On Lake Como: Villa Balbianello

One of the more memorable scenes in the James Bond film, Casino Royale took place at the beautiful VILLA BALBIANELLO on the shoreline of LAKE COMO. I remember gasping when I first saw 007 convalescing in such gorgeous surroundings and I remember thinking: Bucket list, some day I want to see that villa in person.

This past July, I was able to scratch Villa Balbianello off my bucket list when I took a private tour of the villa and its vertical gardens. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take photos of the well-preserved interiors, but I thought I’d share the spectacular gardens with you since the villa proved as gasp-worthy as I’d imagined.

Villa Balbianello was originally a home for franciscan friars, so that’s why you see the façade of a church and two bell towers in the image above.

You can only reach Villa Balbianello by boat, so after you dock at the marina, you climb a winding hill to the estate’s loggia.

On the loggia, you are greeted by beautiful statuary, gardens and speechless views.

Can you believe that this fig tree is one continuous plant!

A closer view of the fig tree.

Looking down on the lawn made famous in the Casino Royale scene.

Can you imagine waking up to this stunning view every morning?

The grounds are blanketed with assorted colors of hydrangeas.

A great view of the vertical garden layout.

A closer look at the estate’s various levels which house a collection of artifacts from the owner’s travels and expeditions to the North Pole and Mount Everest.
I actually saw landscapers climb huge ladders set inside the interior of the trees that allowed them to stand over the trees and prune them into candleabra shapes.
The view boating away from the villa, headed to lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina, another must-do when you visit Lake Como.

Love this view of Villa Balbianello as you approach from the north side.

Photos ©  Zavvi Rodaine

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