The villa is right on the shore of the lake. Designed by the architect Giocondo Albertolli, it was built between 1808 and 1813 for Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Vice President of the Cisalpine Republic, then Grand Chancellor of the Kingdom of Italy and friend of Napoleon who gave him the title of Duke of Lodi. The villa, built in the Neoclassical style, stands in magnificent grounds that were the first example of an English landscape garden on Lake Como. The park was designed between 1811 and 1815 by Canonica and Villoresi who enhanced the landscape by levelling off some areas and creating hillocks in others. The seemingly natural layout was instead the result of extensive studies to increase the optical illusion of backgrounds and distance. Among the many trees and shrubs that adorn the grounds are an enormous magnolia grandiflora, a huge group of camellias and many tropical plants. The chapel stands in the shade of a redwood tree. There are also a number of colonnades and portals from the ‘Antico Lazzaretto’ (isolation hospital) in Milan, which Lazzaro Palazzi transferred to the park in the 15th century. In front of the Kaffehaus, an unusual Moorish-style small pavilion, is a statue of Dante and Beatrix by Comolli, which inspired Liszt’s ‘Dante Sonata’. Japanese cedars, maples and camphor trees grow around an artificial lake, known as the Japanese lake, creating a striking effect. Illustrious guests who have stayed at the villa include: Napoleon, Eugène de Beauharnais, Franz Josef and Ferdinand of Austria, Umberto and Margherita of Savoy. The villa is currently owned by Duke Gallarati Scotti, who opens the gardens to the public from April to October.