Vezio Castle

Located above Varenna, Vezio Castle is an ancient military outpost of medieval origin built for the will of the Longobard Queen Theodolinda.

The castle was connected to the village of Varenna by two long walls that protected the country and its inhabitants from frequent wars and looting.
Partially restored in the twentieth century, today Vezio Castle is a place rich in history, art, nature and culture of the territory.

You can visit the gardens, the underground, the walls and go to the tower where you can admire a wonderful view over Lake Como. The castle also houses a breeding of birds of prey which can be admired during one of the daily falconry demonstrations.

The Valsolda of Piccolo Mondo Antico: on the lake shore

Our journey to Valsolda of Piccolo Mondo Antico continues down from Castello on the cobblestones that reaches on the lake shore.

It immediately meets the Church of Loggio with its large churchyard and shortly afterwards the view opens on the Monte San Salvatore after Lugano and the mountains of Carona where all times the storms in Fogazzaro novel unleashed.

Once on the lake shore of lake Lugano just beyond the Casarico houses and the mouth of the stream Soldo, you get into a large porch and arrive in a small boat landing.

Is the district of “Mal’ari” magical place in times of good weather, but so called because of air turbulence and roaring waves slapping against the shore during storms.
Here the Fogazzaro novel begins with the boat that leads the guests to dinner at base of risotto with truffles in the villa of the marquise Maironi in Cressogno.

From here continue to reach Oria, the starting point of our trip in Valsolda.

Griante: the Majolica factory and the Anglican Church

In the hamlet near the lake called Majolica, we can find the Anglican Church and the building still called “Ca’ di quadrej”.

Between 1700 and 1800 Griante had a factory for the production of Majolica.
The raw material was derived from the large clay bench located at the foot of Mount Crocione. Feature of “cooked pasta” produced in Griante was yellow.
This production has unfortunately disappeared.

For a long time Cadenabbia was one of the favorite places by the British who settled here and founded a community so important to lead to build an Anglican Church, the first in Italy, which was consecrated in 1891.

The project was designed by architect Giuseppe Brentano, whose neo-Gothic style was the ultimate expression in a project for the facade of the cathedral of Milan, never realized.

Particularly noteworthy are the mosaics that adorn the facade, made from the english architect Murchison. He was the first owner of Villa Norella whose gardens are descended from the villa to the road Statale Regina on the border with the Anglican Church.

Opposite the church, on the lake promenade, it was recently placed the statue of Konrad Adenauer depicted while playing bowls, his favourite pastime.

Griante: Villa Petra and Villa Norella

Villa Petra was built by the family Guaita in the twenties of the twentieth century.

The Guaita furnished it with a very refined taste, and there gathered the artworks of inestimable value: Ming porcelain, paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Piazzetta, Brustolon carvings.

When Mr Guaita died, Raffaele Calzini oversaw the presentation of the auction catalog.

The villa was bought by the family Sterzi who completed the access to the park with the imposing wrought iron gate.

In the nineties, the villa was purchased by Mr Lieven who established there the headquarters of the Piano International Foundation “Theo Lieven”. Every year seven pianists from around the world have the opportunity to study with famous artists of international renown.

Villa Norella was built in the late nineteenth century in a dominant position on the lake. Its garden descends flounced toward the Statale Regina.

Its first owner was Mr Murchison, educated man of great artistic ability.

Mr Murchison has left on the facade of the Anglican church, located at the foot of the garden of Villa Norella, two mosaics of excellent workmanship made by him as a pastime.

Griante: Villa del Cedro and Villa Giuseppina

Villa del Cedro is a beautiful villa dating back to the eighteenth century which has a lovely landscape on the center and the upper lake Como.

Villa del Cedro takes its name from the impressive cedars of Lebanon of its park where you can also admire the beautiful blooms of roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, dahlias and chrysanthemums.

Villa Giuseppina was built in the early twentieth century by the British family of Garwood, later it became property to the Swiss family Fritz and finally to the German family Eller.

The garden is full of valuable trees such as Japanese maples, cork oaks, myrtles, cedars and several specimens of ancient olive trees.

Griante: Villa Maria and Villa Margherita

Villa Maria and Villa Margherita are surrounded by beautiful natural parks with views on Lake Como.

Villa Maria is situated in a beautiful park that from the road Statale arrives at the center of the village of Griante.

The villa is characterized by a central building with loggias with three arches. It was built between 1889 and 1892 by Martin Clerc, designed by Giacomo Mantegazza from Menaggio. It was completed by an heir, Josephine May.

In its iron and glass greenhouse, it was filmed the advertising of “Amaro Averna” in the 90s.

Villa Margherita was built in the middle of nineteenth century by Ricordi family, famous music publishers in Milan.

It hosted Giuseppe Verdi, who composed part of “La Traviata”.

Villa Margherita is recognizable by a clock and two sculptures places on the cornice. The semicircular room overlooking the garden full of rare plants, azaleas, rhododendrons and roses, was once dedicated to small concerts.

Amilcare Ponchielli in the Villa Cadenabbia began the creation of his work “The Lithuanians” which had great success at “La Scala” in Milan in 1874.

Another guest of Villa Ricordi was the founder of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Anton Rubinstein composer and conductor.

Griante Villa Ronconi – Villa Sada

Griante Villa Ronconi – Villa Sada are two projects of Giacomo Mantegazza.

Villa Ronconi was built on the ruins of an old medieval castle from Mr. Maresi.

The villa is still surrounded by a wall, with guelph battlements.

It was the latest venture of the Engineer Giacomo Mantegazza.

Recently hosted the UN General Secretary Kofi Annan.

Villa Sada was built in 1891 by the english Mr. Alfredo Trench after a project gave by Engineer Giacomo Mantegazza.

In 1955 it was bought by the Labour Knight Alfonso Sada, founder in 1921 of the “Simmenthal”, company for storage of canned meat. The heirs are still the owners.

Griante Villa La Collina-Villa Rosa

Griante Villa La Collina-Villa Rosa are the two houses loved from Adenauer.

Villa La Collina was built on the ruins of an ancient medieval tower.

The sweeping terraced park is full of beautiful flowers and esteemed plants.

It was built in 1899 by the will of the Family Suardi, already owner of the Hotel Cavour in Milan.

Afterwards, it was bought by the french Counts Gallifer, whom rented to Konrad Adenauer, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

He considered Cadenabbia his second home.

In 1977, ten years after his death, the Villa La Collina was bought by the Adenauer Foundation.

Today is a renowned hotel that hosts congress and gives hospitality to important people in the world of the diplomacy, the economy, culture and religion.

Villa Rosa was built in 1904 by the german Family Heck.

It is located on a large plateau and is characterized by a romantic and shady path that leading down to the lakeshore.

Villa Rosa was the first to gives hospitality to Konrad Adenauer, who stayed there in 1956.

Toy horse museum

From the earliest times the children have played imagining to ride a horse and in the centuries the toy horses have taken various forms: a rocking chair or tricycle, stick or springs, made of wood or paperboard, tin or fabric.

With more than 650 toy horses made from the eighteenth century to this day, the Toy horse museum is the first and only museum dedicated to toy horse. Each horse has its own name that tells their story. The collection of the museum is constantly growing thanks to the donations of the visitors.

This museum is the only place where adults, thanks to their memories, return children, and the little ones dream with open eyes.

Griante and its villas

We can not talk about Griante lake Como without mentioning its villas and all the famous people have stayed there.

Most of them are still privately owned and therefore not open to visitors, but you can see through their beautiful parks as you approach from the Green Way Lake Como.
Already in the nineteenth century had conquered its charm travelers from around the world, aristocrats and famous writers like Stendahl, Regazzoni or musicians of the caliber of Giuseppe Verdi who seems here to have taken inspiration for part of Traviata.

In the following articles you will find a little bit about the history of Griante’s villas, the Italian majolica factory and the Anglican Church.