A walk through the Gardens of the Villa Carlotta.
19.06.2013 - 19.06.2013 36 °C
Today was our last day in Varenna, and as we had not yet visited the Villa Carlotta - this was our last chance. Once again we had a late exit from our apartment and headed down the hill for the last time to catch the ferry to the Villa Carlotta's own port - in between Bellagio and Tremezzo.
Our timing wasn't great for this ferry and we had 35 minutes to kill before it arrived. We had some last minute shopping to do for family members - this really is the last bit of shopping that we'll do. So we hot footed it around the lake from the port to a dear little shop that sells hand made ceramic pieces - just beautiful. I've already paid this guy a visit - he makes the pieces himself in Lecco. After we had bought these last few gifts we hurried back around the path on the lake. It's called The Lovers' Walk - but there wasn't much loving going on for us - just a sheer determination not to miss the next ferry.
We were there in plenty of time, the ferry picked us up and we were dropped off at the Villa Carlotta about 20 minutes later. The ferries don't move too quickly here - but when you've got the view of Lake Como that we've had - who cares!
The Villa Carlotta was built at the end of the 17th Century. In the second half of the 18th Century, Princess Marianne of Nassau bought the villa and gave it as a gift to her daughter Carlotta as a wedding present. Hence it was renamed. Carlotta's husband Georg was passionate about botany and made some extensive additions to the gardens. The villa is set in 70,000 square metres of gardens.
These gardens are absolutely stunning - beautifully designed - very pretty, even though the flowering season is almost at an end. We spent over two hours walking through the gardens, taking photos as we walked. So green, so peaceful and right on Lake Como. It was like being in a Botanical Heaven.
We went inside the villa after we had walked all through the gardens. It's an impressive building, but we felt that there was no real consistency inside. The lower floor was empty apart from a display of statues, there was either no signage provided, or if there was - there were only spasmodic english signs. Upstairs there were rooms that were furnished, but once again - not alot of signage. There was a display of modern sculptures, but these didn't really fit with the ambience of the building. The staff weren't forthcoming with information, and were not what I'd call welcoming. The signs that were in plentiful supply were those telling visitors what they must not do! That sounds like alot of complaining - not really, just stating the facts. The gardens though were probably the most spectacular that I've seen in that size.
It was hard not to compare today's Villa Carlotta with yesterday's Villa Balbianello. They're quite different really. Villa Balbianello's gardens are much smaller, but just gorgeous and the Villa itself - well, it exudes soul and charm. The gardens of the Villa Carlotta are an absolute credit to the botanical experts who manage the estate.
Unfortunately we just missed ferry to take us home to Varenna, so we had a 45 minute wait on the banks of Lake Como. By the time we got home we were hot, sweaty and tired (think I've said that before). This humidity is a killer - we won't miss it.
At about 7 o'clock we went upstairs to Enzo and Antonella's garden to have a drink with them. Antonella was actually out (she's a Yoga teacher), so we shared some time and a bottle of champagne with Enzo and two of their friends of 45 years - Faustus and Fiorenza. They are a lovely couple, very friendly - and interested to have a chat with us. This was a special time for us - sitting and talking with local people who've lived in the area for decades, their views on family, friends, politics, sport. Marco and Marta came out at separate times to say goodbye to us. They are great kids - and they are part of a great family.
We said goodnight, making arrangements for Enzo to drive us to the train station at 10.15am tomorrow morning. Then, we walked down stairs and along little alleyways and found a restaurant that Enzo had recommended for our last dinner in Italy, and Europe for that matter. We had a really beautiful meal, this one was a step up from our usual dining - delicious food - beautifully presented, in a lovely quiet atmosphere.
After dinner - we took the long way home - down by the water. It was a beautiful night - calm and warm. Our last night - we won't forget it.