One place on Lake Como you absolutely must see is Villa Balbianello.
One of the most enchanting villas on Lake Como or anywhere else, it is steeped in history, the Romantic spirit and sheer beauty. The villa is situated in Lenno, on the point of Dosso di Lavedo, a lovely wooded promontory stretching across the water, where the skill of the gardeners has produced a scene straight out of a period painting. This architectural masterpiece was built for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini towards the end of the 18th century on the ruins of an old Franciscan monastery of which the facade of the church remains today. On the death of the cardinal the property passed to his nephew, Luigi Porro Lambertenghi. A patriot in the struggle against Austrian dominion and an ardent liberal, together with Federico Confalonieri he helped to finance the periodical Il Conciliatore which gave a voice to renowned patriotic intellectuals such as Giovanni Berchet and Ludovico di Breme. Silvio Pellico also lost his heart to the Villa, declaring Blessed Balbianino! I would gladly spend my life here, such is the magic, romance and poetry of this sojourn.
The villa changed hands a number of times until if was finally bought by the entrepreneur, explorer and mountaineer Guido Monzini who undertook renovation work on the building and marvellous gardens which are as he left them.
Monzino would eventually bequeath the Villa to FAI, the Italian National Trust.