The ultimate lakeside garden, with gravel parterres overlooking the lake, flowered balustrades, lush exotic vegetation and Baroque ornamentations, Villa Monastero is the location that inspired the romantic and decadent settings of “Nadejde” by novelist Antonio Fogazzaro

The presence of an aromatic and medicinal herb garden is documented since the times of the Cistercian monastery pre-existent to the villa. Abandoned in 1567, the monastery was bought and transformed into a residence by Paolo Mornico. Further alterations were introduced by his son Lelio between 1609 and 1645. The villa, which includes the old monastery chapel, remained property of the Mornico family until 1862. It then changed hands several times until 1897 when it was bought by the German industrialist Walter Kees. The current extension of the garden is a result of the interventions carried out between 1897 and 1909: the different sections of the outdoor space are laid out on terraces overlooking the lake, along an about two-kilometres stretch in a highly panoramic position. The main terrace, which extends beyond the Guesthouse, features a formal garden design. Balustrades with sculptural groups and a four-basin Baroque fountain complete the space with a touch of refinement. A monumental staircase, opening with twisted columns and surmounted by a belvedere, leads to the lake. Among the terraces, a small temple crowns the slope. Beyond the villa, past the monumental palms and the old lemon tree house, the garden presents a landscaped layout with winding paths, clearings, and wooded areas with statues, furnishings and several exotic and rare species. At the southern margin of this section there is the Kaffeehaus. Requisitioned during World War I, the villa was then sold to the naturalist Marco De Marchi who incremented Villa Monastero’s botanical collections. In 1940, in keeping with De Marchi’s wish, the complex become accessible to the public. Former seat of the De Marchi Institute for Hydrobiology, today the villa belongs to Italy’s CNR National Research Council, which has entrusted its management to the Province of Lecco, through the institution named “Villa Monastero”.