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Mission & Know How

Villa Erba is a consolidated reality in the high-level exhibition and convention sectors, and organization of prestigious events. Its specialized team and the unique characteristics of its environment offer a strong emotional impact, supported by impeccable organization.

Our attention for our customer goes beyond the venue and its surroundings: our network companies can respond to all needs in terms of accommodation, transfers, culture and entertainment.

The flexibility of Villa Erba spaces and services, the problem-solving ability of its team allow the development of customized turn-key solutions on specific needs. Villa Erba can be held as a reference point for digital culture and innovation.

History of Villa Erba


The monastery origins

According to some authors (some of whom date back to the mid-1400s and 1500s, such as Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Nocera), the name Cernobbio derives from "cenobio", meaning monastery. We are therefore inclined to confirm that the name derives from the ancient Cluniac monastery of the Benedictine nuns dedicated to St. Mary, possibly around the year 966.


Pastoral visit of Monsignor Niguarda

Bishop of Como from 1589 to 1593, Monsignor Niguarda left an accurate description of the church and sacred buildings: "the monastery of the nuns, which are 25, is large and elegant; on the ground floor it has a square arcade with a refectory, the kitchen, and the pantry; upstairs there are tidy dorms with plenty of beds for the girls admitted in the monastery to be educated. They have a large vegetable garden and the vineyard extends to the lake; the doors of the monastery are two, a common one with a wheel for the passage of objects, the other one for wagons and horses (...) ".


Life in the monastery

From a report dated June 6th, 1703, presented to the Bishop of Como, Monsignor Bonesana: “The nuns, also taking into account the lay-sisters, are 28 and live together. They dress in black with a scapular and the usual veils. The income of the monastery in funds and money is L. 8851.11; the annual expenses are of L. 8.448,66. They observe the rule of St. Benedict - ora et labora. As a rule, every fifteen days the nuns approach the Sacraments and even more often, by devotion. They rise from bed at dawn to sing their morning prayers, and every day they spend half an hour meditating "(...)".


The surveyor's inventory

In the archives of Villa Erba, there is still an inventory of permanent assets drawn up by Giuseppe Baietta, land surveyor appointed by the town of Como. Here is an excerpt: “monastery, church, dwelling, garden, vineyard, lawn and courtyards within the enclosure, all enclosed by walls, where the Sisters Benedictines from Cernobbio live. Court, wine press, houses and orchard for the farmer, all enclosed by walls. Perches: 25.412. "


Suppression of the monastery

After many centuries of activity, the monastery was suppressed by the will of Joseph II, Emperor of Austria (various monasteries were closed at that time). All the properties were purchased by the Guaita family, wool manufacturers, who began refurbishing and transformation works, including the demolition of the church.


The new ownership

In 1815, Countess Vittoria Calderara sold Villa D’Este and subsequently, with her husband, General Count Domenico Pino, bought Villa Erba. During his long stay at the Villa (he remained there until 1826, the year of his death), General Pino, a man of great military virtues and, at the same time, a lover of pomp, brought numerous improvements and had a hall frescoed with his coat of arms, which is still visible.


The Cima family

The Countess Vittoria Pino Calderara succeeded General Giuseppe Cima as owner of the Villa, as can be seen from the cadastral document dated 1882, stating that the owners are Giuseppe Cima and his noble daughter Vittoria Cima.


From the Brivio family to Erba family

On November 18th , 1893, with deed No. 5,100 of Mr. Menchozzi in Milan, the property passed to Anna Brivio, married to Luigi Erba, and then, by succession, on December 31st , 1922, to Carla Erba, Luigi’s daughter. Donna Carla Erba married Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone: for several years, in an apartment of the Villa, the noble and generous woman hosted some nuns who used to teach the art of embroidery and sewing to the girls. Donna Carla loved to spend the summer months on the lake with her seven children, of which the best known is the film director Luchino Visconti.


The new Villa Erba

In 1903, in the centuries-old park that housed the ancient Villa, Luigi Erba built the "new villa" designed by the architects Savoldi and Borsani of Milan. The facade is neoclassical, and inside there was a vestibule with sumptuous decorations by Lorenzolli and large windows that looked on the lake. There was also a large atrium with a loggia, and large rooms that hosted illustrious artists such as Verdi, Boito, Giacosa, and Lassalle


Birth of Luchino Visconti

Luchino Visconti was the son of duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone and Carla Erba. He grew up in a wealthy and culturally stimulating environment, attending classical studies with not always brilliant results. He served as a non-commissioned officer of the Cavalry at Pinerolo, and at the age of 26, he successfully ran his own horse stable. As a boy he studied the cello and always felt the influence of the world of opera and melodrama.


"In 1915, from a boat, the photographer Piero Vasconi portrayed the wonderful Villa Erba of Cernobbio, one of the most beautiful residences built on the lake in 1800."

Postcard scan from a photo by Piero Vasconi in 1915 - Historical archive photo Vasconi - Cernobbio - Lake Como Villa Erba


"In the 1930s the photographer Piero Vasconi produced a documentation of the rooms of the fabulous 19th century residence. "Original negative on glass plate cm. 13x18 - historical photographic archive Vasconi - Cernobbio - Lake Como


Luchino Visconti, the father of the Italian neorealism

In 1936 Luchino Visconti entered the world of cinema: Realism and the cinema of the 1930s will significantly contribute to his vision of art. In 1942 he began the production of his first film: Obsession, which became the cornerstone of Neorealism; in 1944 he was captured and imprisoned and was saved only by the intervention of Maria Denis who spoke with the fascist police. In 1948 he returned behind the camera and made outstanding films, such as The Earth Will Tremble, Bellissima, and We, the women. Senso or The Wanton Countess is his first colour film (1954), which was followed by other important productions. Among the best known, White Nights, Rocco and his brothers, and Boccaccio 70. This brings us to the famous Leopard (1962), which enjoyed total public and critical approval: the scenography of the rooms was inspired by Villa Erba evocative atmosphere.


The heirs

When Carla Erba died in 1939, she left her assets to her son, the Duke Guido Visconti di Modrone, who died in Libya in 1942 because of the injuries sustained in the war, leaving his siblings as heirs. Count Edoardo Visconti for the part comprising the new Villa and portion of the large park, and his sister Donna Ida Visconti married Gastel for the part of the old Villa where the monastery was, and a part of the park.


"In 1953, the photographer Piero Vasconi portrayed - The Border International Equestrian Competition. The azienda autonoma di soggiorno promoted tourism through ambitious projects, projecting the town among the most important international tourist destinations. "

Original negative on glass plate cm. 13x18 - historical photographic archive Vasconi - Cernobbio - Lake Como


"The photographer Piero Vasconi portrayed an important scout gathering in the late 50s."

Original negative on 9x12 cm glass plate. - Historical archive photo Vasconi - Cernobbio - Lake Como


The sale of the property

In 1986 the Visconti heirs (in particular Edoardo Visconti di Modrone Erba), sold the nineteenth-century Villa and part of the land to an investee company that purchased it with the intention of creating the exhibition and convention complex that we see today.


Mario Bellini's project

The famous architect Mario Bellini designed the Le Serre exhibition centre project, built in 1988 as a modern greenhouse overlooking the park; the structure, all built on the same level, extends over an area of 11,000 square meters within the centuries-old park.


2016: 30° Anniversary

An important anniversary,
a bridge between past and future.

In 1986 the Villa, rich in history and culture, became a unique convention and exhibition space, combining modernity and technology with the beauty of a magical place. In 2016, 30 years after its foundation, Villa Erba and the Convention Centre, the historical villa and its immense park, represent the ideal venue for prestigious and unforgettable events.

"At the presence of over 700 guests and authorities, the 30th anniversary of Villa Erba Conference Centre was celebrated on Wednesday June 15th with a series of initiatives that enhanced the most significant aspects of this venue: the versatility of its structure, the functionality of its spaces and the possibility of customizing them with the utmost freedom and creativity. The cutting of the cake was the last moment of a great party that involved all the spaces of Villa Erba. The Convention Centre, in addition to hosting this institutional moment, amazed its guests with artists and musicians, involving the public in laser shows and DJ sets and accompanying them in its perfectly decorated rooms. The park was fascinating with its lights, fireworks on the lake and the magical sound of a violin that guided the guests along the way. And finally, the halls of the historical Villa offered the pleasure of tasting the thousand masterpieces of the world gastronomy."

Press release, June 16th , 2016.


In 2017, Villa Erba was the winner of the prestigious FCE AWARDS organized by Federcongressi & eventi.
Since 2004, FCE has been the Federation of meeting and incentive industry associations operating in Italy.
Since 2010, it has become a first-level national association that represents public and private companies and professionals that carry out activities in the sector of conventions, conferences, seminars and aggregation events.

Visit Villa Erba profile on Federconventioni & eventi website

2024 Premio FCE Awards

Villa Erba is winner in 2024 of the prestigious FCE AWARDS organized by Federcongressi & events.                        Also in 2024, Villa Erba was awarded the prestigious FCE AWARDS by Federcongressi&eventi, obtaining recognition in the Member Choice Award category with the project "VILLA ERBA: SOSTENIBILITÀ PER UN FUTURO MIGLIORE".

Visit Villa Erba profile on Federconventioni & eventi website

Our Network

Villa Erba is the promoter of “Lake Como Convention Bureau” a network of companies that offer excellent services and accommodation to national and international customers. The Network, MICE sole interlocutor in the area, supports Villa Erba in the management and coordination of conventions, meetings, incentives and events, thanks to:

- Partner hotels among the best in the area
- Multifunctional spaces
- Logistics services and transfers / shuttles
- Accessory activities (Theatres, Villas, excursions)

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Villa Erba SpA | Lake Como | 22012 Cernobbio (CO) IT | Largo Luchino Visconti, 4

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