After the fireworks last night, this morning we had a band play right in front of our balcony. Don't know what that was all about either!
Breakfast is included in the room rate of 170E - it was fine - meats and cheese, a really good muslix-style cereal (cornflakes too), juices, croissants and the ever-present expresso and cappuccino.
It turned out to be a Two-Villa Day! Yes, we visited Villa del Balbianello in Lenno and then the much larger Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo (one town north).
We took a small motor boat taxi down the coast to Villa del Barbianello. It was supposed to be a walkable trip, but I am really glad we did the water taxi - it was only 5E each round trip.
Villa del Barbianello belonged to a succession of owners since it was originally built as a monastery in the 13th century. The last owner was an Italian explorer (Mt. Everest and other foreign lands), Guido Monzino, who bought and renovated the villa from 1974-1988. The house remained exactly as he left it, with lots of artifacts from his many expeditions, and the grounds are gorgeous. He died at age 60 in 1988 and willed the villa to the FAI, a non-profit organization, which maintains it.
We had a guided tour thru the buildings and spent a lot of time walking around the grounds. It was fabulous! Our very favorite villa of the trip!
This is where Guido Monzino's remains are interred:
Oh! And we found out about the mysterious fireworks last night. A private party by NY stockbrokers was held at Villa Balbianello, and they sponsored the fireworks. It was a huge display, for half an hour or more - must have cost them a bundle!
I just came across a great blog report on a visit to Villa del Balbianello on Dutch Baby.
A few more photos of Villa del Balbianello: