Villa Pallavicino

A park overlooking the lake

This elegant villa is still owned by the noble Genoese Pallavicino family. Right outside of Stresa, Villa Pallavicino overlooks the lake.

Its color and style are unmistakable: even if you aren’t looking for it, you can’t help but notice it. However, what is most striking to anyone who takes a closer look at this pearl of the lake is the impressive and massive wall surrounding the property; adorned with cypress archways, the rhododendrons, camellias, and hydrangeas offer just a tiny taste of what is hidden beyond the white railing.

The villa is one of the oldest dwellings on the lake; originally built for Ruggero Bonghi, it was later passed on to the Duke of Vallombrosa, until it became part of the Pallavicino patrimony just after the mid-XIX century. Less than one hundred years after that, it was opened to the public. In 2017 it became a part of the Terre Borromeo circuit, so the Borromeo Family has managed the park’s restoration after a long period of abandonment, bringing it back to its initial splendor with highly commendable results.

Each owner made improvements to the building and gardens, introducing plants and botanical species which are now splendid, centuries-old exemplars: tulip trees, cedars, sequoias – just to name a few – offer shade for more delicate plants as well as provide the perfect protective backdrop for one of the oldest camellia collections on Lake Maggiore, and a truly interesting collection of centennial rhododendrons.
The record for longevity goes to the lake’s very first rose garden, which continues to delight visitors today with its showy colors and intoxicating scents.

These species, which are perfectly integrated into the environment even though they’re not native, stand side by side with a notable collection of exotic plants that offer a hint of faraway lands and botanical adventures: long and dangerous exploratory treks that allowed plant collectors to discover the rarest, most beautiful and eye-catching plants.

The park is also a comfortable and suitable home for all kinds of creatures: a rich variety of fauna has inhabited the park ever since it was opened to the public. Thanks to the variety of habitats on offer, the zoo is quite notable in terms of the fauna it hosts; visitors will find farm animals, micro-biospheres and natural environments that allow them to get a close-up look at insects, wild animals that have been given a home here because they are no longer able to survive in their native habitat, exotic birds from all corner of the world, elegant black swans and proud peacocks, large owls and smaller, timid ones, cute and cuddly coatis, kangaroos hopping here and there and busy prairie dogs – this is just a taste of what you’ll discover in the park. And of course there is plenty of native fauna moving freely throughout the park: vivacious squirrels, chirping birds, and shy hedgehogs hide from the visitors and keep a close eye on them, safe in their nests and burrows.

Anyone who decides to treat themselves to a Villa Pallavicino visit will leave with pleasant memories: both body and spirit will be renewed by the breathtaking views of Lake Maggiore, the lovely habitats, the melodic sounds of nature and all the scents that fill the air, while the mind will have the luxury of leaving behind the hustle and bustle of daily life and relaxing in this all-natural experience.

Ever since the writer of this article can remember, there has always been a children’s playground in the park. For anyone who once played there, like myself, it’s impossible to forget the little mushroom-shaped house where every young visitor has hidden behind, at least once.

Only the owners can access the villa. Visitors only have access to the park.

Discover this attraction with our “Famous ladies of the Borromeo Gulf” cruise

On more than one occasion, the lake’s strategic position has been a crucial factor in making it the center of power, and its owners have always declared it as such.


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