Villa Serbelloni has an ancient history. Its grounds extend along the Bellagio headland, where Pliny the Younger is said to have owned a villa called Tragoedia. The original plan of the villa dates back to the 1400s, when it was built for the son of the Marquis Stanga. The following century it was extended and altered by the Sfondrati family. The villa next changed hands in 1788 and the new owner, Count Alessandro Serbelloni, devoted himself heart and soul to his new home. He left the simple architectural style of the large building’s exterior unaltered and redecorated the whole of the interior, from the vaulted and coffered ceilings to the paintings and objects of art. Duke Serbelloni mainly concentrated on creating the immense park, where he had about 18 km of carriageways, avenues and footpaths built. After his death in 1826, the villa changed hands several times and was eventually converted into a hotel. The hotel was bought by Princess Ella Walker who bequeathed it to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1959. Many illustrious guests have stayed in the villa over the years: Emperor Maximilian I, Leonardo da Vinci, Ludovic the Moor, Bianca Sforza, Cardinal Borromeo, Silvio Pellico, Emperor Francis I and Queen Victoria, to name but a few. Nowadays the villa is only used as a venue for conferences, many of which held by American scholars, which are held in the old house. The gardens are however open to the public, with their intricate network of pathways through lush vegetation: woodlands with age-old trees, others with exotic species, rose gardens, flower-beds. The gardens are open every day from the first of April until the beginning of November, for guided tours only (included in the price). There are two guided tours a day, at 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., for groups of at least 6 people up to a maximum of 30 people per tour. Guided tours are not available in bad weather. Advance booking is required for groups.