The Villa Balbianello is one of the most famous villas in the world, and is the jewel of romantic Lake Como. It has been the backdrop for scenes in the James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’, as well as other movies such as ‘Star Wars’ and ‘A Month on the Lake’, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Edward Fox.
The Villa was built by Cardinal Durini in the 18th century as a literary retreat, on the site of a Franciscan monastery. The villa is unique on Lake Como as being the only villa offering visitors the chance to view it as it was lived in by its last, extraordinary owner, Count Guido Monzino. Monzino was a famous Italian explorer, the first Italian to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. He bought the villa in 1974, his favorite retreat, and he used it as the base to plan his expeditions. Part of the villa is a museum dedicated to his explorations, which include his expedition to the South Pole.
Count Monzino bequeathed the villa in 1988 to FAI, the Italian equivalent of the National Trust and so ensured that his writings and priceless collections of art and memorabilia can be admired ‘in situ’.
A visit to this villa remains forever in the memory.