Our Story

About Villa Ponti Bellavista, Lake Como, Italy

When Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, German forces occupied most of Northern Italy.
Life in Milan was tough and dangerous. For Signore Fossati, a wealthy Milanese industrialist, it
was past time to get his wife and two young daughters to safety. He installed his family in a
rented house in the picturesque town of Civenna, overlooking Lake Como, to wait out the
war.
A year later, while having his afternoon aperitif, the barman told him that a nearby block of
land, with the best views Lake Como has to offer, was on the market. He met the owner within
the hour and did a handshake deal on the spot.

So begins the story of a house now known as Villa Ponti Bellavista.

Gio Ponti, Italian architectural icon, founder of the world’s foremost architectural magazine,
Domus, and family friend of the Fossati family, became engaged. To capture the spirit of the
site, which floats in the sky above the lake, Signore Fossati decided to build a ship. This
theme was close to Ponti’s heart, who was also famous for his designs of transatlantic ship
interiors. So the Domus architects incorporated ship funnels, lights, wood panelling and
flooring into the design of a landlocked ocean liner, sailing on the edge of a cliff dropping
steeply down the forested hill to the lake.

It took two years of clever engineering and hard work for the three-story holiday house to be
launched. The ship metaphor is captured by the curved living areas, with sleeping areas in
angular cubes, joined up by a central spiral staircase. Surrounding the house are 10 hectares
of gardens and forest, creating a beautiful, completely private, enclave. The 180-degree views
of what many regard as the most beautiful lake in the world have to be seen to be
appreciated.

Time passes. A few years ago, three Australians and a New Zealander found themselves searching Italy for a European holiday home, to both use and rent out. During numerous expeditions over two years, they looked round Rome in the centre, in Sicily in the south, round Florence in the east, but could not escape the magnetic force of Lake Como, located an hour outside Milan.

Of course, what they had in mind was a traditional Italian villa, replete with frescoes and
marble statutes and Juliet balconies. As we all would. But then they saw Villa Ponti. “It’s
completely different from what we set out to find,” said author and now one of the house
owners, Barbara Biggs, from Melbourne. ‘Instead of ancient history, we found breathtaking
modern Italian design. While Australia has mid-century architecture, we’ve never seen
anything like what we walked into that day.’

The Melburnians bought the house and began a massive renovation in July 2017. ‘We wanted
to keep the architectural integrity of the house, respecting its nautical themes. clean lines and
60s style, while adding luxury,’ said Jan Owen, another owner.

Stage One, renovating 500mq of living area including eight bedrooms, three living areas and
two kitchens as well as 200mq of terraces, is complete. Stage Two, a garden wellness centre
replete with spa and saunas, and a pool with an infinity edge to the lake, was completed by
April 2019.

Villa Ponti Bellavista is now ready to receive guests. We look forward to welcoming you soon!\

Read more about the restoration here.

Our Story 1

Barbara Biggs
Chanel McNamara
Jan Owen
David James