Shopping for groceries for our villa, a local Italian said we must see Villa del Balbianello. The villa can only be reached by boat. Built originally in the last years of the 18th century, Guido Mongino, a prominent Milanese businessman, purchased Villa del Balbianello in 1945. He restored this amazing property and turned it into a museum to house his rare art pieces and souvenirs of his most famous expeditions - one to the North Pole in 1971 and the conquest of Mt. Everest in 1973. Having no living relatives, upon his death, Villa del Balbianello was left to the Italian National Trust. The pictures of the gardens and the property do not do justice to this magnificent estate.

One day we had lunch in Cernobbio at Villa D'Este, one of the most beautiful hotels in Europe. As we entered the lobby, the 10 foot-high floral display was breathtaking. The hotel, inside and out, is grand. The impressive gardens are perfectly manicured, the swimming pool extends out into the lake and no matter which way you look, you see nothing but perfection. We loved this hotel!

 

Every morning and late afternoon, we shared food, drinks and conversation on the front veranda of Villa Lilo. The gardens feature so many ornamental shrubs and trees that are changing colors during this fall season. I could see a big difference in their foliage in just a week. From the veranda, we can see Bellagio across the lake. All of the towns that dot the lake have their own specific charm. We travelled to Bellagio everyday to change ferries to go to the other towns. How exciting to be here!