Splendor by Lake Como – “Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como” by Ruben Modigliani
Dear readers, not sure if it’s the harvesting season of the vineyards in Europe, or I just missed the beautiful experience of walking through the vineyard, touching the berries, and getting into some of the beautiful mansion of the wine-grower, having a deeper understanding about their heritage, family history, and of course, the interior and home furnishing of the house. Speaking of mansion and interior, I recently came across a very impressive book which recalls me the kind of vineyard mansion’s feeling, the sumptuous coffee table book titled “Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como”, although the book has been published a couple of months ago, however, I am so thrilled to finally see that in one of a high end bookstore which they stock it! Without any hesitation I decided to get this (and only) copy right off the shelf.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The villa in its lush garden. The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio devotional complex with the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be seen in the left background.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The villa features many Chinese artifacts, such as the large eighteenth-century porcelain vase from the Qianlong period (r. 1736-95) in the center of the room.
©Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The fireplace features two Louis XVI polished steel and gilded bronze andirons. It was in the period of Louis XIII that these practical log supports were elevated to the status of decorative elements.
Written by Mr. Ruben Modigliani, who is Senior editor of AD Italia, and an authority on the history of architecture and taste, along with the beautiful photos which taken by Mr. Bruno Ehrs, this book is an impressive album of the Villa Balbiano, a historic and splendid mansion which located in a prominent position at Lake Como in Italy, a picturesque and popular resort paradise for aristocrats and elites. The villa, with over a century’s history, was once the home of the enlightened Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, who transformed this villa into a crucible of philosophy and art, framed within the villa’s archetypical Roman lines. While the mansion has been refurbished by one of my favorite esteemed French interior designer, Mr. Jacques Garcia, which added his sublimed and alluring touch in the restoration work to this villa, including his signature of combining antique furnishing set and world-class collection paintings, which brings a new breathe of air on top of this opulent, artistic, and historic Italian villa.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The Sala del Tempietto is an invitation to relax and meditate. The refined Louis XVI tea table, reminiscent of the work of Adam Weisweiler, is accompanied by two Marie Antoinette armchairs of the same epoch, upholstered in velvet and bearing the stamp of Louis-Madeleine Pluvinet, a late-eighteenth-century Parisian cabinet maker.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. Sala del Durini is the first room encountered by the visitor entering the villa. Its name derives from the Cardinal’s emblem painted on the ceiling. Originally an office, it is now an elegant library.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The silverware is laid on the carved and gilded mahogany and bronze table, from the late Louis XVI period.
Despite I didn’t have a chance yet to visit this splendid mansion in person, yet, by flipping each beautiful page of this book, and witness the effort that made by the author and the photographer, with their interpretation to capture the most essential and sumptuous angle of the villa, I think I am content to just sit back to read this for now, having a cup of delicious jasmine tea and Italian lemon biscuit, to simply feel the Italian opulence and artistry.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The master suite on the second floor is dressed in red. The black wood Régence desk (1720-1725) is attributed to Noël Gérard and stamped “Assnat”, which means it was used in the early French national assemblies.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The high hedges have regularly spaced arched openings that reveal statues and make it possible to circulate freely through the garden.
© Bruno Ehrs from Villa Balbiano: Italian Opulence on Lake Como, Flammarion 2018. The pool with its rich carpet of water lilies occupies the center of an oval created in the seventeenth century. The owners made sure it was preserved and restored, along with the fountain in the center, created in the eighteenth century.
Image courtesy of Flammarion, photograph by Bruno Ehrs, all copyright reserved © VILLA BALBIANO by Ruben Modigliani, Flammarion, 2018.