Waterfront Villa Carlotta sits high on Como's must-visit list. The botanic gardens are filled with colour from orange trees interlaced with pergolas, while some of Europe's finest rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias bloom. The 8-hectare gardens also contain a lush fern valley, a bamboo grove, a Zen-style rock garden, towering cedars and a high-up lookout fringed by olive trees. The 17th-century villa, strung with paintings, sculptures (some by Antonio Canova) and tapestries adds an artful element to the beauty.
The name of the villa comes from the Prussian princess who was given the place in 1847 as a wedding present from her mother. Upstairs, rooms with period furniture provide an irresistible insight into the royal lifestyle. You, too, can swan from the Salotto Impero (Empire Room) to Carlotta's bedroom and wonder just what it must have been like to hit the hay after a hard day at the lake.
Villa Carlotta has its own ferry stop.