Located on a woody outcrop on the western side of Lake Como, Villa del Balbianello is a scenic mansion overlooking a wide and impressive panorama. It is renowned for its astonishing terraced gardens and can be reached on foot or by taxi boat. At the end of the 18th century Cardinal Angelo M. Durini, patron of arts, discovered the beauty of the place and purchased the property, building on the remnants of a monastery. It later hosted patriots and artists such as Alessandro Manzoni and Arnold Böcklin. In 1974, Guido Monzino, entrepreneur and adventurous traveller (the first Italian to reach the top of Everest), made the Villa a treasure chest of memories of his life.
Here visitors can see Guido's maps, travel tools, books, or the relics of his mountaineering feats kept in the fascinating Museo delle Spedizioni, together with furnishings and a precious collections of ancient and primitive art. Thanks to its spectacular location, gardens and the panoramic Loggia Durini, the Villa has been chosen as a set by film makers to shoot parts of the James Bond 007 and Star Wars sagas, among others. The property was bequeathed to FAI - Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano, the Italian trust for the protection of historical, artistic and landscape heritage in 1988.