The Villa del Balbianello is a villa in the town of Lenno, overlooking Lake Como. It is located on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore of the south-west limb of Lake Como, not far from the Isola Comacina;it is famous for its elaborate terraced gardens.
The villa was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery for the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini. The two towers which can be seen are the campanili (bell towers) of the convent church. After the cardinal’s death in 1796 Giuseppe Arconati Visconti bought the villa and made improvements to its gardens and the porch.
In the nineteenth century the villa belonged to the Porro-Lambertenghi family. The writer and patriot Silvio Pellico was a visitor in 1819.
By the early twentieth century the buildings had fallen into a state of neglect when an American military officer, Butler Ames, purchased and renovated the villa and its garden. In 1974 it was bought by the explorer Guido Monzino (leader of the first Italian expedition to climb Mount Everest), who filled it with rich collections, including artifacts acquired on his expeditions. Monzino, who died in 1988, left the villa to the Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano, the National Trust of Italy.