Villa D’Este – History and Elegance

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The history of Villa D’Este  dates back more than 500 years when Cernobbio was a little village, populated only by fishermen and woodcutters.

Built in 1568 as a summer residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, it remained in the Gallio family for over two centuries. For many years after, the great aristocracy of Europe lived in the Villa. Finally after many sales and resales in 1873, a Limited Company founded by a handful of successful Milanese members of High Society transformed it into a luxury hotel.

Located now in a magnificent park , amidst flowers, terraces, fountains and gardens, overlooking the blue-green waters of the lake, this beautiful hotel famous throughout the world, can be reached by car or train in less than 45 minutes from Milan.

Its 152 guest rooms-no two alike in size or décor- have the intimacy of a private home and the outstanding service is provided by a staff that outnumbers the guests!

A favourite pastime is the cocktail hour when you sit on the terrace overlooking the shores of the most romantic lake in the world waiting for the sun to set with the Alps glowing in the background.

The food in Villa d’Este is prepared for a diversity of tastes and in various settings: there is the formal dining –room and covered Veranda , overlooking the lake and the Grill with its informal milieu where dinners are served in the gardens under the spreading foliage of several century-old plane trees.

The unique heated swimming pool floating on the lake and the Villa D’Este has been designed to combine all the benefits of health, beauty and fitness in an atmosphere that replenishes the mind, body and soul.

Also, located in a very attractive countryside , the Villa D’Este golf course is only 7 miles from the hotel and is considered one of the finest and most challenging ever constructed.

There are countless treasures in Villa D’Este. Just before the reopening of the hotel in 2004 some repairs were being done in the Column Room when the workmen excitedly announced that peeking through the hole in the ceiling some exquisite frescoes had come to light.

Villa D’Este is more like a museum with all the modern conveniences since most of the guest rooms as well as the corridors of the building are decorated with works of art, antique furniture, paintings and ceramics which are part of a precious collection.

What is more, a botanical garden has been recently created in the park of Villa D’Este with a wide selection of fresh herbs and vegetables used to enhance the flavor of the dishes.

There are two major events taking place every year at the hotel. The ‘Concorso d’Eleganza’ for both vintage and concept cars which takes place every April while the first week of September , Ambrosetti organizes a financial/political seminar where the list of participants ranges from Nobel winners to the most prominent leaders of the day in the political and economic fields from all over the world.

In 1873 when Villa D’Este was transformed into a hotel , celebrities from all over the world started flocking to the shores of Lake Como. Very popular among the European Aristocracy, and it did not take long for the movie stars to show up on lake Como.

Villa D’Este is known as the most romantic lake in the world and has been the favourite site for some of the most famous couples who chose to ‘honeymoon’ on Lake Como: Rita Heyworth and Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor and Nick Hilton, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, Ari Onassis and Maria Callas whose romance started here.

With Gratitude T.

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