Along the banks of the promontory of Bellagio are many old patrician houses, each surrounded by parks and gardens with many trees. Some, like Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi d’Esti, are open to the public.
Francesco Melzi d’Eril, count of Lodi and Vice president of the First Italian Republic in the time of Napoleon, decided at the beginning of the 19th century to build a summer residence at Bellagio.
Villa Melzi is set in English style gardens which spread harmoniously along the banks of the lake. Developing such a garden required notable changes to the structure of the land and outstanding supporting walls. The axis of the garden extends up the slope from the lake to a high point above the villa.
In such surroundings, enriched by monuments, artefacts (amongst which are a Venetian gondola transported to Bellagio expressly for Napoleon, and two precious Egyptian statues), rare exotic plants, ancient trees, hedges of camellias, groves of azaleas and gigantic rhododendrons, the villa, the chapel and the glass house display the neoclassical style at its best.
According to the taste of the period many exotic trees were planted. Fascinating is the Japanese pond with water lilies, surrounded by Japanese maple trees and cedar trees. As our visit was in late October we were delighted to see the garden in its autumnal glory. Spring would also be wonderful when the rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias take centre stage.
We continued our walk back to Visgnola, the place we called home whilst exploring this wonderful part of the world. (No. 10 on Map)