Driving time from Milan Malpensa: 45 minutes
Carate Urio is one of the favoured trio of quiet lakefront villages on the western shore (the others being Moltrasio and Laglio).
Moltrasio is just beyond Cernobbio as you head northwards, characterised by on the western shore large traditional or period villas lining both sides of the quiet lakefront road. Some on the lakefront side front both the road and the lake where the road runs very close to the lake. The majority of these spectacular villas remain Italian-owned, although in fact 10 or 20 are available to buy directly from the owners discreetly, and off-market. It is only through our local network and reputation for discretion that we are able to take serious international clients inside any of the wonderful properties. Italians, especially on Lake Como, insist on complete privacy for their financial affairs and would never permit ‘for sale’ signs or any other publicity for large family villas they may have had in their family for generations.
Just before reaching the central lakefront area of Moltrasio, you pass Villa Passalacqua set up above the road – one of the most instantly recognisable villas on Lake Como. Built on the ruins of an old monastery – Monastero Degli Umiliati, Villa Passalacqua was built in the 1700s by the Odescalchi family. Designed by a Swiss architect in a neoclassical style, the frescoes throughout were designed and created by Andrea Appiani who was Napoleon’s chief artist. Providing around 3,000m² of living accommodation over three floors there is a grand entry staircase and a double tiered music room which houses a grand piano which once sat in the Leipzig concert hall. Many well-known figures have stayed here over the years, Vicenzo Bellini composed his most famous operas here – Sonnambula and La Straniera, Winston Churchill and Napoleon have both spent time here too. The manicured gardens of 7 acres designed by Ratti Floral surround the villa, and an underground tunnel leads to the private lakefront beach and moorings for Villa Passalacqua. Some websites have Villa Passalacqua listed for sale with a price of €70m – there is a big ‘buyer beware’ notice as most of the agents do not hold a mandate from the American owner and have little idea about the terms on which it really is available! Please do talk to us if you would like further information.
Moltrasio has a central lakefront area which begins with the public lido – swimming pool and beach area – to the front of the Grand Hotel Imperiale. There is a small selection of restaurants and bars as well as a small piazza where you will often find live music in the summer. The piazza is also the place to board the ferry to travel around the lake.
Many think of the lakefront area as being all there is to Moltrasio, but in fact most of the houses in the village of Moltrasio lie in the area between the lakefront villas and the busy main road running high above. This is a beautiful traditional Italian village filled with a variety of properties, many with great lake views provided by the steepness of the terrain. In the old village you will find an older piazza with the inevitable ancient church and small cafes, offering views of the lake across terracotta roofs. This area is criss-crossed with old mulatteria (mule tracks) which provide easy pedestrian access to the lakefront area.
Even this is not all that Moltrasio has to offer. Moltrasio continues above the main road, with a large cluster of traditional-style properties, with many again offering wonderful lake views. The locals correctly call this area, a separate part of Moltrasio, the village of Tosnacco. In the centre is a small piazza with a surprisingly good trattoria offering traditional Italian fayre at very reasonable prices.
Moltrasio, including Tosnacco, is attractive to those seeking a property on Lake Como with easy access to the city of Como and to the international motorway system (it is only 10 minutes’ drive to the A9 motorway at Como Nord). Anyone who is looking for the opportunity to build a new home in Moltrasio will find that the area below the main road has no remaining land at all. But in Tosnacco it is possible to find building land and to add a home in a much more traditional Italian village (many of the houses have only pedestrian access!) with wonderful sunny lake views.
For many international buyers the quiet lakefront villages remain a favoured place to seek their property on Lake Como. Moltrasio is the starting point for property searches for many of our clients. Either a lakefront home for those looking for a large villa with private lake frontage, or one set back from the lake with wide lake views. And do bear in mind that away from the lakefront there are more traditional properties at surprisingly attractive prices.
Our view: Moltrasio is a picturesque traditional village which retains its historic charm. It is justifiably popular with international visitors, and offers easy access to Villa d’Este, the city of Como and the international motorway system which places it within 45 minutes’ of Milan Malpensa airport.