The old convent and patrician residence is now an internationally acclaimed Congress Centre. The gardens are full of exotic plants with statues, temples and balustrades. The villa, as its name indicates, was a Cistercian convent dedicated to Saint Mary and was probably founded before the 13th century. In 1567 Cardinal Federico Borromeo suppressed the convent and it was converted into a private home. Since 1953 it has been used as the venue for scientific, administrative and cultural courses and meetings sponsored and organised by Lecco provincial council and the Istituzione Villa Monastero, the body through which it operates. The villa and its splendid park with exotic plants and flowers and species native to the lake are open to the public almost all year round.