The stately Villa Melzi d’Eril sits at the edge of Lake Como in the picturesque town of Bellagio, while the peaceful Villa Melzi Gardens stretch out around it, hugging the lake. Both the villa and gardens were built in the early 19th century as the summer home for an Italian duke. The gardens were designed in the English style with statues, and the grounds include a traditional orangery (which today houses a museum) and a small chapel. Inside the museum, you'll find a bust of Napoleon and a set of ceremonial keys to the city of Milan. The small chapel is where the Melzi family is entombed.
While the villa itself is not open to the public, there are lots of walking paths through the gardens, ideal for getting away from the crowds in Bellagio. Some of the paths run right along the lake, with blooming plants on the opposite side and benches placed along the path so you can stop and enjoy the view for awhile. Visit the gardens on a full-day walking and boating tour of Lake Como to explore the nearby city of Varenna, taste local olive oil, and enjoy a boat ride across the lake.
Insider's Tip: Look out for the historic Venetian gondola on display in the gardens, which was brought to the property at the request of Napoleon.
The gardens are located in Bellagio, in the mid-lake region of Lake Como, just 45 miles (72 km) north of Milan. The gardens are open every day during the months of March through October, from 9:30am to 6:30pm. It closes the rest of the year, and the opening date in March varies. Adult admission is €6.50, while children younger than the age of 12 enter for free.