Villa Carlotta is a place of rare beauty. Here masterpieces of nature and human ingenuity coexist harmoniously in 70,000 square meters of gardens and museum structures.
The town of Tremezzo overlooks the water with low arcaded houses in one of the most beautiful spots on Lake Como. At the end of the town there is the sumptuous Villa Carlotta. Carlotta received it as a wedding gift from her mother, Princess Marianna of Prussia.
Between the lake and the mountains, the Marquis Giorgio Clerici had a splendid residence built at the end of the 1600s. It is surrounded by an Italian garden, facing a breathtaking view of the Grigne and Bellagio Dolomites. The villa, in the early 1800s, became the property of Gian Battista Sommariva, a skilled politician, art collector and personal friend of Napoleon.
Sommariva wanted part of the garden to be transformed into an extraordinary romantic park. The villa was embellished with masterpieces, especially sculptures, including works by Canova and his school and Thorvaldsen such as Palamede, Amore e Psiche, Tersicore and the monumental frieze with the Triumphs of Alexander the Great. In the halls of the villa also came the manifesto of Italian romantic art, painted by Hayez: the last kiss of Romeo and Juliet.
The works of art on display are mainly located on the lower level. The upper one shows the villa from the residential point of view. It was here that Carlotta lived, the character who ended up naming the villa. In fact, around 1850 the building became the property of Princess Marianna of Orange-Nassau who gave it to her daughter Carlotta when she married George II, Duke of Sachsen-Meiningen. On the second floor of the villa there are still today furniture, objects, paintings, pictorial decorations, all traces of the taste of living in the villa of the two spouses. It was Giorgio II, a great lover of botany, who created the landscape garden of great historical and environmental value which today includes over 500 plant species.
Walking through the park’s avenues we meet the Rock Garden, the Valley of Ferns, the Rhododendron Forest, the Bamboo Garden. You can see ancient specimens of camellias, secular redwoods and the Agricultural Tools Museum, housed inside the greenhouse. Do not miss the beautiful spring blooms of rhododendrons and azaleas in over 150 varieties. The park of Villa Carlotta is a place of great charm due to the harmonious coexistence of styles, the richness of essences, the literary suggestions. An unmissable destination for those arriving on Lake Como.
Reachable through the seventeenth-century pincer staircase, the terraces facing the villa offer many botanical surprises. This was the area of the garden that the famous French writer Gustave Flaubert, during his stay on Lake Como, appreciated more than any other.
From the terraces you can enjoy an extraordinary view of the Italian garden. The stone balustrade with twelve pillars that hold as many statues of mythological divinities and allegorical figures dates back to the early eighteenth century. In the center, the eighteenth-century fountain and the statue of Arione, a famous zither player, who was miraculously saved from the waves thanks to the intervention of a dolphin.
In April and May Villa Carlotta offers an authentic sea of multicolored azaleas, arranged along the paths. The effect is extraordinary, both for the chromatic variety and for the dimensions reached. To better observe the scene, a path along the azaleas leads to a gazebo of pure romantic flavor. From this place you can admire authentic azalea waves with behind walls of arboreal rhododendrons that accompany the flowering.
The garden to the left of the villa has less spectacular character than the rest of the park, but it is the richest area of romantic suggestions. This large park area still appears in the ancient nineteenth-century structure with the great plane trees already celebrated by Stendhal. Here is the fountain of the dwarves. Tasty baroque-style building made of steps and waterfalls, concentrated in a few meters of steep slope.
At the Villa Carlotta greenhouses a deposit of ancient agricultural tools was opened to the public, using part of the wooden structure of the lemon-houses. In the building old tools and instruments once used by the villa’s gardeners are exhibited for educational purposes.