In a most unusual move Villa Passalacqua in Moltrasio, Lake Como is to be sold at auction at the end of this month. This is not the sad case of an Italian court repossession, but a choice by the owner to engage a US auctioneer to sell the property.
The Villa, dating from the 1700s, is undoubtedly one of the finest on the lake and is designated as an Italian national heritage property. It has hosted a noteworthy list of individuals including Napoleon Bonaparte, Vincenzo Bellini and Winston Churchill. The frescos in the main reception rooms were painted by Napoleon’s favoured neoclassical artist Andrea Appiani.
Villa Passalacqua is exquisite in every way, from its long façade set above the lake to its beautiful landscaped gardens stretching down to the lake, its underground tunnels and its secret access to the lakefront where it has its own private moorings.
The main villa has nine gracious suites in addition to its two-storey music room, there is a large guesthouse in the grounds and a huge set of stables and storage rooms to the rear of the villa.
For many years the villa has been used primarily as an exclusive wedding venue, a place to celebrate event with friends and family and a property available for rent to those with the finest tastes. Its American owner, who has restored the villa in the most tasteful manner with architectural expertise has decided that it should be sold by auction with a reserve price of $20m.
Provided the auctioneers do their job well and build substantial interest it should sell for at least double this figure, perhaps three times or more, although we doubt that the achieved price will ever be announced publicly.
The price of Villa Passalacqua does not reflect the pricing of the beautiful, but much smaller, period villas of which there are many on Lake Como. Few would wish to own a home on such a grand scale and it is more likely that its worth will be assessed in terms of the commercial opportunity which it will continue to have as a grand location for very special events. Period lakefront villas of this quality would usually expect to achieve a price of around €15,000 per square metre. For Villa Passalacqua, with 20 bedrooms and an overall 4,000m2 of property this would suggest a price of €60m… it will be fascinating to see whether the villa fetches this sort of giddy price.