BELLAGIO, Villa Melzi Gardens

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The Villa Melzi Gardens are one of the most enchanting places to visit in Bellagio. They are open to the public from March to October by purchasing an entrance ticket or booking a guided tour.

In the center of the garden stands the villa, which unfortunately cannot be visited. It is neoclassical in style, with simple lines and a lakefront façade adorned by an imposing double staircase and numerous windows. It dates to 1810 and was built by Duke Francesco Melzi d'Eril, an important Italian politician who in 1802, when the Italian Republic was founded with Napoleon Bonaparte as its leader, became its vice-president until 1805.

When the Duke died in 1816, he was buried in the chapel you can visit inside the gardens, built between 1808 and 1816. Both the villa and the chapel are works of the architect Giocondo Albertolli.

Within the gardens there are other striking architectural works, such as the artificial grotto, near the entrance, or the Moorish kiosk, with its celestial roof, inside which are marble busts of Ferdinand I of Habsburg and Maria Anna of Savoy. There is also an interesting museum, built inside the Orangerie, the old greenhouse for orange trees, with some ancient archaeological finds.

Among the most beautiful sculptures, near the Moorish kiosk, is the Monument to Dante and Beatrice, by Giovanni Battista Comolli, from 1810. The full title of the work is Beatrice consoles Dante from the prophecy of exile by pointing him to a higher justice and is inspired by the eighteenth canto of Paradiso, from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. The sculpture, depicting the supreme poet with his beloved Beatrice, was commissioned expressly by Duke Melzi, probably to represent his disappointment with the political events of the time and his belief in the greater good.

During your visit, you will notice the long avenues lined with trees and bushes of rare, exotic species from faraway countries, such as the cedar from Japan, the palm from Chile or the linden from Crimea, but above all, with numerous species of camellias, including some very rare specimens of Italian origin.


Here’s an interesting fact: it seems that it was the sculpture dedicated to Dante and Beatrice that inspired Franz Liszt, who often walked here with his companion Marie d'Agoult, to compose the Dante Sonata.

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