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18th century Villa Balbianello overlooking Lake Como is a favourite with movie directors

By Wednesday, 02 February 2022 10:30

Many movie directors have chosen Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como as a movie set. In the little town of Lenno, in the province of Como, the villa is located at the tip of the Lavedo peninsula, a promontory that extends into Lake Como and which took the name Balbianello from the building itself.

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Down the years the villa fell into disuse

Built in 1787, on a pre-existing Franciscan monastery, by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, in 1796 it was inherited by his nephew Luigi Porro Lambertenghi. Later the property was bought by Giuseppe Arconati Visconti who hosted great intellectuals such as Giovanni Berchet, Giuseppe Giusti and Alessandro Manzoni in his elegant home. Giuseppe's son, Gianmartino Arconati Visconti, made improvements to the garden and the loggia, but the gradual decline of the family was accompanied by the gradual abandonment of the villa.

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Star Wars and Casino Royale were both shot in the villa

Thanks to its charm, Villa del Balbianello has been used as a setting in numerous films: many international blockbusters have been shot in its rooms and gardens including A month at the lake by John Irvin (1995), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the clones by George Lucas (2002) and Casino Royale by Martin Campbell (2006).

In 1988 the villa was left to the Italian Environmental Fund

Villa del Balbianello then fell into a state of neglect until an American officer, Butler Ames, bought it and renovated it. In 1974 it was acquired by the explorer Guido Monzino who furnished it with relics from his expeditions. Monzino died without heirs in 1988, and the villa was left to the Italian Environmental Fund, FAI.

The lake views from the loggia are stunning

The real wonder of Balbianello is Cardinal Durini’s loggia which has been offering visitors an extraordinary view of the lake for over two centuries, with Tremezzina, towards the north, and the Isola Comacina on the opposite side. The compass rose inlaid on the floor was installed by Guido Monzino, and commemorates his expeditions around the world. 

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