The villa was built in the second half of the 16th century to a design by Pellegrino Tibaldi (the architect, incidentally, to whom we owe the interior of Milan Cathedral) for the then powerful Gallio family of Como. It was originally known as the Villa del Garrovo, from a stream in the place where it stood, but in 1815 it was bought by Caroline of Brunswick, former wife of the future King George IV of England, who renamed it the Villa d'Este in honour of a distant Italian ancestor. Between 1816 and 1820, Caroline gathered a cosmopolitan and fun-loving court around her, thus increasing the place's fame on an international scale.
In the mid-19th century, Villa d'Este was sold to the Ciani family, who transformed it into the present luxury hotel and conference centre back in 1873. The grand hotel is well known to international news and economic affairs for the Cernobbio Forum, held here at the start of September each year.
It has an Italian-style garden, set beside an avenue of cypress trees. Its ornamental features include a geometrically arranged series of alternating miniature towers, forts and waterfalls, ending in a nymphaeum.
Travelling on dry land, you will find Villa d'Este just beyond the town of Cernobbio, along the Strada Regina.