Aahhhh....the famous lake como.....long winding lake, soaring cliffs & snow capped Swiss peaks, scattered lakeside terracotta roof villages and of course history, gardens, art, architecture, & all thing Italains.
Visiting the elaborate villas & gardens around the lake makes me feel slightly like I am on 'the grand tour' that every well brought up lady in the 19th century with means would be subjected to. You can vividly imagine the elegant era of bygone wealth & splendour.
Lake como is rather full of tourists, but the gardens and palaces are of an era well forgotten where art, money & self improvement as well as displays of all three where essential.
While there are plenty of gardens & villas to see, one to mention as outstanding is villa carlotta which we visited today.....
The garden that is seen today is mainly the work of one owner who seriously improved and expanded the grounds with his botanical collections. There were of course others who laid the foundations & made their own improvements. I was disappointed to find that the main collections consist in the majority of rhododendrons and camellias, but they are now enormous mounds of green. A little past their flowering for the year, but impressive for their size & diversity just the same.
The front and older sections of the garden are a delight for their true Italianate structure and sense of symmetry and proportion. Also for the citrus allee, the impressive terraced staircase with ornate balestrades, the pond parterre, grottos at each level (complete with a collection of live turtles!) & the pebble mosaic paths. Of course the plantings are everything you would expect....olives, roses with beautiful scent climbing the wells, boxes hedges, unusual ligustrum buxifolia topiary, lavender cut hard to mini hedges, citrus and great hedges of privet, laurel & osmanthus. Oh and the wonderfully scented pillars of Chinese star jasmine that waft at you as you climb the staircase.
I think I now really understand what an italian garden is.
There are also a few follies ( of course) which are delightful and we wondered how they cut and maintain them where they were. The outdoor terraces of main rooms are the other delight that struck me. Fully functional spaces of perfect proportioned that are designed for living and flowing from majestic rooms and balconies.
Of course the view is astounding out over the lake and the weather showed us its best after a few days of rain, so we could appreciate the view fully. Sections of the older garden have been designed to be viewed from special rooms and windows to great effect also.
One cannot visit villa carlotta and not mention the art, decortion and sheer beauty of the villa itself. It's a magical work of art. Marble statues & artworks, Marbled effect walls, decorated ceilings and plaster decoration that are jaw dropping. But at the same time they are obviously done to be lived in and enjoyed. They give a sophisticated grandeur that one can truly imagine a family enjoying & hosting grand soirée for well to do visitors.
Lake Como is full of gardens and villas and wonderful towns dotted on the shore of the lake. The fun is in the ferry rides to another town for lunch and climbing the verdant green slopes to view the lake and mountains. It's beautiful and enjoyable and a must to finish ones Italian education....!