Villa Carlotta located in the municipality of Tremezzina, exclusive location nestled on the shores of Lake Como.
The villa is famous for both the art collections preserved inside, and for the vast botanical garden that surrounds it, one of the most exclusive Italian villas that are part of the “Italians Grandi Giardini” .
The villa, originally called Villa Clerici, was built around 1690 at the behest of the Marquis Giorgio II Clerici, to celebrate the origins of Como and the success of the family.
In 1801 the property was purchased by Gian Battista Sommariva, at the time President of the Government Committee of the Cisalpine Republic. An illustrious figure in Milan and an art collector, in contact with the most famous artists of the period, Sommariva modified the interior of the villa in order to enrich it with works from his collection, which made the villa known throughout Europe and a place of interest for characters like Stendhal, Lady Morgan, Flaubert David, Canova, Prud’hon, Thorvaldsen.
The villa was enriched with masterpieces, especially sculpture, including works by Canova and his school and Thorvaldsen as Palamede, Amore e Psiche, Tersicore and the monumental frieze with the Triumphs of Alexander the Great.
Sommariva also collected contemporary art, such as Una Nevicata from the muffled atmospheres, painted by Francesco Fidanza, which today is at the Gallery of Modern Art in Milan.
In the halls of the villa came the manifesto of Italian romantic art, painted by Hayez: the Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet.
In 1843 the villa was bought by Princess Marianna di Nassau, wife of Prince Albert of Prussia, who four years later, in 1847, donated the building to her daughter Carlotta of Prussia, a character who ended up giving the villa its name. of the wedding with Duke George II, crown prince of Saxony-Meiningen, celebrated in 1850.
In 1855, following the premature death of Carlotta, the villa passed on to her husband, and then to the German family, who made it their holiday home.
During the period of German ownership the building did not undergo significant changes. Neo-Renaissance and Pompeian decorative motifs were added by German and Italian artists, including Ludovico Pogliaghi, and the last pieces of the Sommariva collection were sold, with the exception of large paintings and some sculptures.
Instead, the merit of the particular care of the garden lies with the German family. Enthusiasts of botany, duke George II along with his son Bernardo III, they worked for the development and enrichment of the garden, which is still of great historical and architectural value.
At the death of George II the property passed to his son, Duke Bernard III.
On May 7, 1915, before Italy’s declaration of war against Austria, Max Wundel, the villa owner and the Sassonia-Meiningen trustworthy man, returned to Germany, leaving the villa to the guardian of the chief gardener. The latter maintained constant and detailed relations with the German family, through the Swiss Consul in Milan, until 18 September 1916, the date on which the villa was subjected to a union and entrusted to the captain of the Guardia di Finanza of the Menaggio company, Giovanni Baschenis first and Alberto Passeri later.
During the period of the union, a detailed inventory was produced – still in use – of the assets present in the villa and their distribution. The purpose of the union was to guarantee and monitor the integrity of the assets, the property of which remained of the Sassonia-Meiningen.
The syndication period ended at the end of 1919 with the return of Max Wundel, who after taking over the management of the villa took great care to reopen the building and its gardens to the public, an activity that had been interrupted during the period of Syndicate .
Following the outbreak of the First World War, the villa, as a property belonging to citizens of enemy states, was subject to trade union and went through more than a troubled decade that ended on May 12, 1927 when the Villa Carlotta Moral Authority was established. Today he manages the villa and the gardens.
The villa stands as a building of great grandeur, at the northern end of the town of Tremezzina, and its entrance overlooks the lake, the main access point to the villa at the time of its construction and until the middle of the last century.
Its position allows a view of the Bellagio peninsula and the mountains surrounding the lake.
The construction of the villa dates back to the last decade of the seventeenth century, and is representative of the architecture of a villa on Lake Como in the Baroque period.
The building looks like a building of great grandeur, but, compared to the canons of the time, also very sober. It is divided into three floors (two of which can be visited today).
The works of art on display are mainly on the lower floor, while the upper one, with an elegant gallery, shows the villa mainly from the residential point of view.
The botanical garden of Villa Carlotta
The village of Tremezzo faces the water with low houses with arcades in one of the loveliest points of the Lario, behind narrow steps rise towards the houses clinging to the mountain, before the eye sweeps over the vast central basin of the lake, on the promontory of Bellagio, on the rocky Grigne and the villages scattered along the eastern shore.
At the end of the village, on the lake, is the sumptuous villa Carlotta, named after Carlotta who received it as a wedding gift from her mother, Princess Marianna of Prussia.
The villa built in baroque style at the beginning of the 18th century, is at the top of a beautiful terraced garden full of more than 500 species of plants favored in the bloom by the mildness of the climate.
In the garden we find citrus pergolas, ancient hedges of camellias, 150 varieties of azaleas, rhododendrons, tropical plants, the valley of the southern ferns, palm trees, cedars, the bamboo garden and ancient sequoias, plane trees and exotic essences. Inside the villa welcomes works of art of immense value.
The greenhouse used in winter for citrus fruits has been transformed into an interesting museum of ancient agricultural tools