Como and the walk along the shore of Como villas
Como and especially Lake Como is known throughout the world for the beauty of the historic villas placed along the coasts especially on the western branch of Lario.
But we can say that in the same city of Como there is a very special concentration of villas, that you can admire having a stroll along the Gelpi promenade on the lakefront Como: the walk along the shore of Como villas.
As a point of departure and arrival, according to the direction you prefer, we indicate Villa Olmo and Villa Scacchi-Carminati.
Here you are villas starting from the historic center of Como, i.e. from piazzale Somaini on the lakefront in the district of Borgovico:
- Villa Resta Carminati-Scacchi
It carries as many names as its owners. The villa was built in 1787 on a design by Felice Soave at the behest of the Raimondi family; then the building became the property of the Carminati, then of the Marquises Resta-Pallavicino, an ancient patrician family of Milan and finally of Cav. Giuseppe Scacchi who restored it in the 50s.
Currently the villa is still private and houses the offices of a silk company.
Neoclassical style. The façade facing the lake has a double loggia with Doric semi-columns on the ground floor and Ionic on the first floor, with a cornice adorned by statues. Inside there are walls and vaults decorated with stuccos attributable to the Piermarini and the Albertolli.
- Villa Saporiti or Villa La Rotonda
This villa was built between 1790 and 1793 for the Marchesa Eleonora Villani Doria, it was designed by the architect Leopold Pollack, one of the main protagonists of neoclassical architecture in Lombardy.
It is called La Rotonda because of the characteristic semi-circular part that protrudes from the façade and is visible from the lakeside promenade. On this side, above the windows, we may see five medallions depicting the mythological river deities, while instead on the top of the Doric pilasters we find sandstone statues depicting Neptune, Mars, Jupiter, Juno, Apollo and Venus.
Inside this semicircular section there is the hall of honor with an elliptical plan and two floors. The ceiling of the living room is vaulted with rosettes and stucco reliefs of dancing nymphs and vestals alternating with lunettes depicting portraits of famous men, including family members.
This villa also hosted Napoleon in 1797 on a visit to Lake Como with his family and sisters.
The villa then passed into the hands of the Marquis Marcello Rocca-Saporiti, then the Resta-Pallavicino and then the Provincial Administration of Como in 1950, which has its headquarters here.
- Villa Gallia
This villa is the oldest of those in the district of Borgovico, in fact it was commissioned by the abbot Marco Gallio in 1615 and was built on the ruins of the villa-museum of the bishop and humanist Paolo Giovio to host his collection of portraits of famous men, now hosted at the Civic Art Gallery of Como.
The original appearance of the villa can presumably be traced in the detached frescoes from the first floor that represent a three-story dwelling, while actually the building consists of two floors with a large central hall that occupies them in full and smaller rooms on the sides.
The villa was enlarged in 1815 with the addition of a wing designed by Simone Cantoni and at the request of Carolina di Brunswick, wife of George IV of the United Kingdom from 1795, who bought Villa d’Este in 1815.
The building became the property of the province in 1957 and currently houses administrative offices. On some occasions the Province opens it to the public as Villa Saporiti.
- Villa Parravicini Revel
Superb villa on two floors with a monumental façade with a central part dominated by a tympanum and side wings. The garden, although re-dimensioned with respect to its origin, has flower beds decorated with seasonal decorations.
Several owners have succeeded over the years: towards the middle of the eighteenth century the Della Torre family coming from Rezzonico, then going to the Duchess Maria Visconti di Modrone, then at the beginning of the twentieth century the count Genova Thaon di Revel enriched the windows of decorative frames and gets married with Camilla Castelbarco Albani from whom he had 5 children.
Among these the daughter Ottavia inherited the villa, but due to the fact she didn’t married she lived with her sister Sabina, wife of Emiliano Parravicini of Parravacino, from whom she had 3 sons: the first-born Camilla married in 1917 the Captain of Corvette of the Navy of the Tsar, Sasha Sossnovsky, and from 1927 settled permanently in Como, in this villa that was previously used as a summer residence.
The villa remains of private property and is used on request to organize weddings and events.
- Villa Volonté
The design of this villa along the lakeside promenade is by Felice Soave, like the villa Scacchi-Carminati, and its construction dates back to the years 1853 – 1861.
The building presents a neoclassical style and consists of two symmetrical bodies joined by a porticoed veranda delimited by six columns. The two wings have a tympanum with nineteenth-century bas-reliefs.
The villa was owned by the Fontana family and then by the Mondolfo family who made some changes to the structure. Currently the villa is owned by the De Santis family.
- Villa Olmo
Villa Olmo is a beautiful and magnificent villa overlooking Lake Como with its neoclassical architecture and Italian gardens on the front and the English park on the back side.
The Marquis Innocenzo Odescalchi commissioned it to the architect Simone Cantoni as a summer residence. In 1824, at the death of the Marquis, the villa was inherited by the Marquis Giorgio Raimondi, who ceded it in 1883 to Duke Guido Visconti di Modrone. In 1924 it was bought by the Municipality of Como and today it is a municipal heritage.
Currently Villa Olmo is used as a venue for congresses, shows, art exhibitions and its park is public.
But do you know why it’s called so? Its name is due precisely to a more than centenarian elm unfortunately no longer existing today.
Cover’s image©David Brahmall