From 1949 to 1963, Konrad Adenauer (Cologne 1876 – Bad Honnef 1967) was the first Bundeskanzler (in English: chancellor) of the Federal Republic of Germany. He spent for eleven years, till his death, his holidays in the Insubrica region, at first on Lake Maggiore and then on Lake of Como.
Adenauer started his political career in 1906 in Cologne, becoming, from 1917 to 1933, and briefly in 1945, the mayor of the city. Opposed to the Nazi party, he managed to survive the war. After it, he became a founding member of the Christian democratic, liberal and conservative party (CDU), which was politically positioned in the centre. In 1949, he was elected as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, and from 1951 to 1955, as the Foreign Secretary. Being reelected three times, he took his retirement in 1964 and died on April 19, 1967.
He began to travel to Switzerland in 1955. His first holiday, from 18. July till 27. August, was spent in Mürren / Schilthorn in the region of the Jungfraujoch. He stayed at the Palace-Hotel, in which the British Field-marshal Montgomery (1887-1976) had spent his holidays after the war. This Palace Hotel has become nowadays an inhabited ruin, which is a poor ending for a hotel that at the turn of the 19th Century was acclaimed as the Grandhotel des Alpes. But, Adenauer came back to Switzerland in 1956, precisely in the Insubrica region and kept returning here for the next ten years.
Adenauer, still Bundeskanzler in office, spent three weeks during the spring of 1956 at the Hotel Monte Verità. He managed to relax, notwithstanding paparazzi’s attention and a wide public interest. He managed to visit a tiny Brissago Island and many other surrounding places. However, his presence in Ticino and Switzerland attracted too much interest from the press and, somehow, put in an awkward position the Swiss neutral government.
Nevertheless, his love for Insubrica brought him back to the region in 1957, and this time, he was not far from Lago Maggiore, spending his vacations on Lake Como, precisely in the district of Cadenabbia in the small town of Griante.
Adenauer stayed in Griante at the Villa Rosa (called the Villa Berta at present), which was a magnificent villa built in 1903-1904, with 1000 square meters of living space and a beautiful secluded garden, with private beach and direct access to Lago di Como. In 2018, the Villa Berta is on sale for an undisclosed price. As for Adenauer, he returned to Griante in 1958, living in the nearby Villa Arminio.
Adenauer developed in a short time a strong attraction for the place, from 1959 to 1966, he spent his holidays in the Villa La Collina in Cadenabbiaby Tremezzo, for 15 times in a row. The Villa belonged to a French couple, and it is likely that Adenauer rented the premise for the whole period, refurbishing it after many years of decay. During these years, Adenauer managed to visit Cadenabbia twice a year, welcoming numerous important politicians and personalities of his time. He was eased in the task by a beautiful and spectacular view, overlooking the lake and the picturesque Bellagio.
There may be a significant connection to why Adenauer chose this particular Villa. As a matter of fact, the family of his Foreign Minister from 1955 to 1961, Heinrich von Brentano (1904 – 1964), was originally from Tremezzo. The villa la Collina has been used since 1977 as an international meeting centre and a hotel by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. In 2004, the villa La Collina was classified by the Bundestagcommittee (the legislature body of Germany) as a memorial place of the national importance and it has become the only German related place of remembrance outside of the German territory.
Hotel and Convention Centre Villa La Collina in Cadenabbia by Tremezzo (Lago di Como)