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Villas, Gardens + Private Rides in Lake Como

Lake Como Blog Post #2 - in this post, I will share some fun memories of the villa tours and garden walks from my recent Lake Como trip with The Cottage Table Experience (I can't speak highly enough about Daune's retreats, jump on her mailing list to be the first in the know!)

Villa del Balbianello

The villas we visited were so dreamy and grand, and the gardens were icing on the cake to make everything so magical. I think that's why I am still sorting through hundreds of photos, and wanting to paint each and every one!

Gorgeous home along the water

I especially loved the private boat service to get to the Villas, and our drivers would also tour along the water's edge to give us all a better peek! We felt like royalty - especially when we discovered that George Clooney also hires the same guys. I loved chatting with the drivers as they were happy to fill us with history and information on Lake Como - you could tell they were so proud of their hometown! I think I was only on two ferry's the whole time I was there and realized how much I enjoy how the other half lives (or how the .01% live!)

Giardini di Villa Melzi is in Bellagio.

"Built in the early 1800s with the contribution of distinguished artists, craftsmen, decorators and architects, it has always been a site of rare beauty, of inspiration for writers, artists and poets, a place that people who come to admire the perfect balance between plants, history and landscape fall in love with."

Giardini di Villa Melzi is magical. One day we toured the gardens, which are so beautiful and well kept, but even more special was that some of us took a sculpting class in the Villa's art studio (coming up on the next blog).

Villa Cipressi in Varenna

What a piece of paradise. This Villa Cipressi s also a fancy hotel that looked incredible - especially for weddings! I could have spent a day here lounging in all the shady spots of the gardens with my sketchbook and a cappuccino—full of beautiful terraces of lush green trees, roses, and wisteria. A gorgeous and very old Magnolia tree was the perfect place for us to settle in and take out our notebooks.

I laughed every day with these beauties; Jeanne Oliver, Renee Mueller, and Alexis Garett

Villa Balbianello

The view from our boat cruising toward the Villa Balbianello was spectacular! Our driver took us slowly around the lake so we were also able to see quite a few beautiful homes on the way. If you travel to Lake Como, I highly recommend a private boat ride for a couple of hours just to take it all in (you can still see these homes from the ferry, but it's farther away and goes much faster!)

Daune set up a private inside tour for us which was really special as Mr. Monzini (former owner) was an expeditionist - there were so many collectibles and furniture on display.

"The whole complex consists of two residential buildings, a church, and a portico that overlooks a little dock. The main building of Villa Balbianello hosts some English and French furnishings, which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The interiors are embellished by many glass paintings and a rich collection of ethnic sculptures and artifacts. The upper floor of Villa Balbianello is dedicated to Guido Monzini, former owner of the villa and leader of the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest."

This Villa has also been featured in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Casino Royale.


I hope you enjoyed this second post about Lake Como; in case you missed the first one, you can check it right here: The Beauty of Lake Como.

I loved traveling with good friends, and then meeting new ones too - like Melanie, who we can't wait to travel again with!

If you want to paint these Lake Como photos with me, I'll be going Live on Wednesdays - spending the next few weeks choosing one photo and then painting it with watercolors in my travel journal. Come join me on Instagram on Wed at 10am PT/1pm ET. There will be a replay in the feed right after.

And if you are looking for a fabulous acrylic paint class, my newest one inspired by this trip is on sale for Early Registration until July 11th, when the class opens. It's an online class with lifetime access and is self-paced. Limited time - only $42 now! The regular price is $62

Check out the link for more info!

Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day!


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so much beauty and inspiration - thank you for sharing the story and the pictures


Lori Bracamonte
Lori Bracamonte
Jul 03, 2022

Wow, my soul just relaxes looking at that lake. Oommm!


Oh my goodness! This location is straight from a storybook isn’t it?!! Absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing. 💚💙


How amazing, you are so kind to share your travels with all of us!


Leila Hooper
Leila Hooper
Jul 02, 2022

I am loving your Lake Como retreat posts Andrea. So inspiring. Thank you.

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