Description

This is the house in which Lord Byron and his physician John Polidori stayed for the summer of 1816, near Lake Geneva. Polidori said ‘the view from his house is very fine; beautiful lake; at the bottom of the crescent is Geneva’. He also makes the comment ‘narrow; not true’, which may refer to someone else’s comment on the house, which he dismissed on seeing it. 

The house was originally named Villa Belle Rive, meaning beautiful shore, and Mary Shelley gives the name Belrive to the Frankenstein family home beside Lake Geneva. Byron referred to the house as Villa Diodati after the owners, who were distantly related to the poet John Milton’s friend Diodati. Milton probably also stayed there. There were reports of heavy rain and flooding in mid-1816, and the house appears to be dangerously close to the lake’s edge. 

Byron was at first unable to rent the villa. From Polidori’s diary it appears he tried for three years, but an English family had a prior claim on the property. The rent stated was for a year or eight days – it seems they would have been able to take it as a short holiday let. The cost at first was 25 louis per month, though on 6 June they paid 125 louis for six months. Polidori left in September and by mid October Byron had also gone.

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