Villa del Balbianello - History and Facts | History Hit

Villa del Balbianello

Lake Como, Italy

Tristan Parker

20 Sep 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Villa del Balbianello

Villa del Balbianello is grand private property on Lake Como in the Italian town of Lenno. It is located on a hilly outcrop and boasts dramatic views across the lake and surrounding lakeside towns.

History of Villa del Balbianello

The villa was built for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini in 1787 on the site of a 13th century Franciscan monastery. After being passed on to a number of owners over the following centuries, American businessman and former soldier Butler Ames purchased the villa in 1919, before his descendants sold the villa in 1974 to Guido Monzino, an adventurer who led the first Italian expedition to Everest in 1973.

Monzino filled the villa with antiques, exotic furniture, sculpture, paintings and artefacts acquired on his travels, some of which remain at the property today. Monzino left the villa to the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), an organisation which protects Italian heritage venues and buildings.

In 2006 Villa del Balbianello was used to film several scenes of Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s famous spy, James Bond. The villa is portrayed as a private hospital where Bond recovers after being tortured. Several scenes are filmed on the lawns outside the villa overlooking the lake, showing off both the grounds of the villa and the stunning surrounding scenery.

One scene features Bond’s former friend and colleague Mathias, whom Bond believes to be a traitor, being taken away by MI6 agents after they taser him. Another scene features Bond revealing the password to a bank account holding the $115 million winnings from a high-stakes poker game earlier in the film.

Villa del Balbianello today

The villa is now used only for private events and is a popular wedding venue due to its picturesque and romantic lakeside setting. Aside from Casino Royale, other films have also featured the villa as a location, including Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and A Month by the Lake (a romantic-comedy from 1995 starring Uma Therman, Vanessa Redgrave and Edward Fox).

Getting to Villa del Balbianello

The villa can be accessed by a 20-minute walk from the nearby part of Lenno, which is on the western shore of Lake Como, in a coastal area known as Tremezzina. Lenno can be reached from the Italian city of Como via a 45-minute drive.

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