A virtual Visit of Villa Melzi, Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy

Because of the travel ban due to Covid, a lot of us are stuck at home.  We are itching to go places but can`t .  I should have been in Italy, on Lake Como, enjoying a a garden trrip to the Italian Lakes.  So, when I knew I couldn`t go, I contacted my friend and the best guide in Bellagio,  Rita Annunziata . 

Those of you who have taken my trip to the Italian Lakes surely remember Rita,  the bubbly, knowledgeable and extremely competent guide who shared her knowledge and took us around during our stay in Bellagio.  She was going to be our guide this year too.

Rita lives in Bellagio and has been on lockdown for the past 50 days like most ot us in Europe.  She told me that the authorities had recently loosened restrictions and she was now allowed to leave her home.  In fact, the owner of the Villa Melzi had decided to open the gardens to the residents of Bellagio.  This, we agreed, is a good thing as gardens, like people, like to be admired and there will no tourists in Bellagio for a while yet.

Rita generously agreed to film her next visit on her smartphone and to send me some footage to share with you.

Villa Melzi is located right on the shores of the Lake and the garden cascades down towards the water.  The neoclassical Villa was built at the turn of the 19th century by the then Vice President of the newly founded Republic of Italy. Francesco Melzi d´Eril (1753-1816).  By all accounts it is one of the grandest and most beautiful gardens on Lake Como.  

The garden is directly accessible from the village of Bellagio, along a grand avenue of Sycamore Trees, (Platanus Europea), clipped like candelabras to provide the visitor with shade.  The walk is quite magical
 

Late last week Rita was able to go to the Villa.  The house is always closed to the public as it is still used as a private home and only the gardens are accessible.

Designed in the English style and decorated with Italianate and Egyptian scultpures, the gardens were  designed by the architect Luigi Canonica and by the botanist Luigi Villoresi, both responsible for the arrangement of Villa Reale park in Monza. 

At the time, there was great interest for exotic and non-European plants.  That explains why so many non-native trees can be found in the park.  Villa Melzi is also known for its incredible sweeps of azalea, at their peak in late April-early May.
Rita takes us into the garden.  
 

When she arrived at the house,  Rita chanced upon the manager of the property.   Not only did he invite her in but he led her up to the roof, a place where even she, despite having lived all her life in Bellagio and being a guide for 33 years, a place where even she had never been before. 

Here is Rita`s little film from the roof top.

A  huge thank you to Rita for sending us this material.  Like the rest of Italiy, Bellagio  is currently closed to tourists and the place is empty.  Rita says 2020 will be a "local" year, where the locals will have the place all to themselves. 

Perhaps  in  September, when the schools reopen, will it be possible to welcome some intrepid tourists again.  2021 will be a better year for business, for sure.
 

 
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