It didn’t seem possible that our bus could fit through the narrow streets driving through the Lake Como District in Italy on the way to Villa Carlotta.
Many times our driver stopped the bus as a truck approached from the other direction, there was no way both would have made it through. I was so glad he was driving and not me.
Lake Como is breathtaking and so different from Venice and Verona. The mountains rise over the deep water to form the perfect micro climate for plants.
This is a place to see palm trees growing in consort with rhododendrons.This is the view which first greets visitors to Villa Carlotta.
Villa Carlotta itself is a masterpiece built in the 17th century, the gardens are mostly formal and with the lake and mountains as a background the two play together like a good orchestra.
Entering the villa offers a look at what life must have been like so many years ago. The fountain welcomes visitors as they gawk at the facade of the mansion.
Each step through the garden offered something different. At first it was roses covered in droplets of dew which gave way to an amazing bed of annuals topped off with a palm tree.
The lake and mountains seem to call to you every few steps. Sometimes they are framed by a weeping beech other times they serve as a background to kissing topiary swans.
There is a steep climb through a shady, tropical garden. Palm trees flank a small waterfall which eventually finds its way to the lake. Near the top visitors are rewarded with Japanese maples and a forest of bamboo. This is where one of the first surprises appears. I had never seen turtleshell bamboo before, the name explains it’s growth habit.
The second big surprise came in the form of bright yellow blooms, were they little daffodils in September? Even though walking on the grass is forbidden, I had to figure out what they were. Luckily, no one was around and the Italians are a pretty relaxed about rules and regulations. When I got closer I still had no idea, although the flowers resembled crocus, I had never seen a yellow, fall blooming crocus. I showed the pictures to some of the plant experts touring with me and still no luck. It wasn’t until one of the tour guides, Anna Marie saw the photo that it was confirmed as a fall blooming crocus. I have to find some bulbs to plant this fall.
Our tour ended in the shadow of a beautiful white marble statue in the atrium of the villa.
The first day in Lake Como was amazing, I can’t wait to explore another villa tomorrow.
The light illuminated these begonias in a shady bed at Villa Carlotta.
I had never seen bright yellow, fall blooming crocus before. I have to find bulbs for this plant to put in this fall.
This annual flower bed was filled with an assortment of flowering plants topped off with a palm tree.
Isn't this a wonderful little grotto?
There's no escaping the spell of the lake and mountains. Topiary kissing swans are in the foreground to complete the view.
This long waterfall leads to the lake and is flanked by palm trees.
Turtleshell bamboo was a surprise, I've never seen anything like it.
One of the first things to see when visiting Villa Carlotta was this dew covered rose.
Our tour ended in the atrium.
(Top image: The view of the mountains and Lake Como is spectacular from Villa Carlotta. Doug Oster photos/Post-Gazette)