Romantic Villa del Balbainello Lake Como Italy on 17Apr2014

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villa balbainello

our next visit was to villa balbainello on 17.4.2014. it is a beautiful and romantic attractions at lenno on lake como, at the tip of a small wooded peninsula with beautiful terraced gardens. it was also the filming location for star wars episode 2 – attack of the clones (2002) & casino royale (2006). 🙂

we spent the morning taking the lake shuttle from villa carlotta to varenna, had lunch at alle darsene, strolls through villa melzi & did some fast shopping at bellagio (& earlier at varenna) before picking up our car at villa carlotta jetty, and drove 30mins to villa balbainello at lenno.

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route accès to villa balbainello

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route accès to villa balbainello

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river taxi to villa balbainello

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it was possible to trek/walk to villa balbainello, but it was late afternoon, so we decided to take the private river taxi. the round trip fare including access to the gardens was euro13pax. 🙂

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we strolled around the terraced gardens overlooking the lake.

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loggia at top of the hill

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loggia at top of the hill

the loggia with the famous sunset scene, the kiss (anekin & padme) & the secret marriange. 🙂

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a charming & romantic garden setting, perched on the hill & overlooking the lake. villa carlotta was also facing the lake & had a lot more trees, flowers & plants to admire while you strolled. here at villa balbainello the space were more expansive living space & you could sit in the lawn (as in 007 recuperating in casino royale), rest on the verandah etc.

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1619497_10152329569269494_2734882906825612184_non the return journey, the river taxi took us on a short cruise further south, and we had a good view of villa balbainello & another villa further south of the lake & also lenno from the craft.

it was past 5pm when we got back to our hotel la perla. we liked the panna cotta at pizza balognett so much that we stopped by & ta pao (take-out). la perla has a sprawling scenic terrace patio overlooking the lake. we had couple of macchiatos to go with the panna cotta while enjoying the great views. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

 

The Enchanting Villa Carlotta on 16Apr2014

10252148_10152108866445662_1904424028743536863_n the enchanting villa carlotta is located in tremezzo just past the grand hotel tremezzo palace. there is an open carpark free parking area next to it, and the jetty for the lake shuttle for bellagio & varenna ia also located nearby. 🙂

we had sometime before dinner after returning from pigra cable car at argegno, & villa carlotta fits in the schedule well. 10308133_10152108866380662_250614155345170435_n1609925_10152108866295662_6784631393572576435_n

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the villa sat on hilly terrain at the lakefront. there was a massive gate & a beautiful fountain area with pruned hedges that were 6m tall! little bit like a maze. looked beautiful especially from the lake view balcony on level 3.

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the enchanting villa was built in the late 17th century, and bought in 1843 by Princess Marianne of Nassau, Albert’s of Prussia wife, who gave it as a present to her daughter Carlotta in occasion of her wedding with Georg II of Saxen-Meiningen. Hence the name Villa Carlotta. Georg II was fond of botany, & the fascinating romantic gardens were well known for its century old cedars and sequoias, rock garden, ferns valley and bamboos garden, and the many varieties of azeleas & rhododendrons. 🙂

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my wife & daughter felt that villa carlotta gardens were more attractive than keukenhof gardens. in the sense that there were 100 year old cedars & sequoias & bamboo patches spread over rolling knolls in an outdoor natural landscape setting extending over 7hectares, it did have its unique beauty.  keukenhof though was 4times in size about 32hactares. 🙂

we were looking forward to dinner, quite expecting a delightful evening at la darsena, the dinner recommendations by our b&b proprietress. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Pigra Cable Car at Argegno Lake Como on 16Apr2014

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after a wonderful lunch at pizza balognett, we took a short 15mins drive to argegno & managed to park right below the pigra cable car entrance on 16.4.2014. 🙂

pigra cable car, 1 of the steepest in europe, was opened in 1971. it took you from 200m to 850m in less than 5 minutes, or about 8km/hr.  it is actually capable of 5m/s or about 18km/hr. of course if you c/w taipei 101 just regards speed, that lift goes up at 60km/hr! 🙂

the adult return fare was 3.90euros. see the tariff & schedule here. 🙂

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the view at the top was awesome, such a beauty to behold. 🙂

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it was like a top-of-the-world feeling. you could see the small town of argegno populating the shoreline. 🙂10258768_10152327729449494_610356105448171779_n 10265614_10152327730844494_4234315811545095709_o 1484662_10152108856140662_5038915772151073548_n

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10312005_10152108856015662_8327047963765080833_na wonderful liberated feeling! 🙂

we did not have time to do the trails to belvedere. so we took the 4pm cable car down & drove back to tremezzo & made a short tour of villa carlotta before a nice dinner at la darsena. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

 

The Dazzling Keukenhof Gardens on 14Apr2014

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2 things wife wanted to do was to cycle in amsterdam & see the tulips at keukenhof gardens, hence the “detour” from the initial vacation plan of lake como & cinque terre. 🙂

we had the holland pass so we used the gold pass for entry to keukenhof gardens (cost 15euros). we used a silver pass for the bus return from schipol airport to keukenhof (cost 9euros). for the journey from amsterdam central to schipol we had to pay 4euros as it was not covered by the holland pass. if you do not have holland pass, you can get a combi ticket here including return from amsterdam central & entry to keukenhof for 28euros.

keukenhof is located in lisse and used to be the part of the the estate of teylingen castle.  games were hunted & food collected for the kitchens of the castle, hence keukenhof or kitchen courtyard in dutch. in 1857 the same architect who designed vondelpark, redesigned the castle gardens in english landscape style, the basis for keukenhof today. there is wifi throughout the gardens & you can download the map here.

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tulips galore! 🙂

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flowers were mostly in full bloom and it was a wonderful stroll through the garden. very pleasant indeed. 🙂

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floral art. 🙂

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sakuras. quite pretty these, but of course nothing could compare with seeing sakuras in kyoto or tokyo. 🙂

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there was an animal pen.

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fun time for the children, and adults too!

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such beauty! 🙂

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keukenhof was really beautiful. a very enjoyable day. we visited villa carlotta later when we visited tremezzo in lake como, and that was extremely beautiful too, and villa carlotta gardens was in a landscaped natural terrain setting, not garden plots, so it had added attraction. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy