Lake Como Light and Shadows


An artists invitation visit

hosted by the Church of the Ascension, Cadenabbia, Lake Como, Italy

working with the Royal Academy and Lake Como Landscape Museum


23rd to 27th April 2023

Draft Programme


Sunday, 23rd April

Late morning (12.50)  flights to Milan Malpensa and transfer to Villa Collina, Cadenabbia.

Cadenabbia is in the central lake area known as the Tremezzina, the destination of many grand tour visitors and location of many grand villas.  Villa Collina was the post-war home of the German Chancellor Adenauer and is now owned by his foundation which promotes  freedom and liberty, peace, and justice.

Brief reception, followed by welcome dinner at Villa Collina


Monday, 24th April – Lake Como lakeside towns and villas

Morning visit to Lake Como Landscape Museum, Tremezzo with speaker

Villa Mainone dates from 1682 and has recently been restored and opened as a new museum dedicated to the region’s landscape, with fascinating interactive landscape and mapping exhibits, as well as paintings.

Ferry to Bellagio and lunch at private villa

Afternoon free (guests free to explore Bellagio or other areas)

Bellagio is the quintessential lakeside town at the junction of Lake Como’s two arms.

Dinner at Villa Collina plus  talk ( tentative subject  history of lake Como 0 AD -1944 AD))


Tuesday, 25th April – Local life around and above Lake Como

Hike (approximately 2 hours) on the ridge above Lake Como, seeing 1st World War defences

Alternatively visit to places of local interest before travelling up to ridge.

From just above the lake to the inland valleys and ridges above, small towns and villages offer a very different view of life where small businesses and agriculture predominate.  The mountains were a line of defence and an escape route to Switzerland.

Lunch at Rifugio Venini and transport back to Cadenabbia.

Early evening concert by Bellagio’s BILACUS choir in Church

This male voice choir is renowned for their renderings of local songs and 1st world war music.  The Church of the Ascension is an architectural treasure with excellent acoustics.

Dinner at Villa Collina plus talk (tentative subject – intellectual and creative history of the lake – magistri comacine – composers – ithinker  - writers - artists)


Wednesday, 26th April – free day with optional tours

A day at leisure – a chance to visit the renowned gardens and sculpture collection of Villa Carlotta, take a ferry on the lake or enjoy the facilities of Villa Collina.  Other alternatives include:

  1. For walkers a bus to Lenno (ca 10am), Three Monasteries Walk with stop at bar at top of Madonna del Soccorso, a UNESCO world Heritage Site
  2. Visit Varenna – wander round lakeside town
  3. Morning and lunch in Como – visit Cathedral and Art Museum and/or History Museum

Early evening reception at Villa Maresi (one of the grand lakeside villas), as guests of the Heinz Foundation, followed by Gala Dinner at Villa Collina.


Thursday, 27th April – the early history

Water taxi to visit Villa Balbienello and Isola Comacina followed by farewell lunch at lakeside restaurant.

Set at the end of a wooded peninsula, Villa Balbienello was built on the site of an earlier monastery, designed to provide a spectacular setting for an 18th century intellectual and artistic salon.  Isola Comacina is Lake Como’s only island, in earlier years a refuge from waves of warring forces and now an archaeological park and the site of a 1930s artists’ colony.

Transfer to Milan Malpensa airport.