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The Borromean Islands, colours on the water


Saturday 15 august 2020

It had been the favourite holiday destination for the noble Lombard families since the 18th century among which the Borromeo family, the prestigious family with Florentine origins as well as the Visconti family. Lake Maggiore is among the most appreciated Italian lakes, it has become an attraction for the Italian and the foreign artists too.

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The Borromean Islands, colours on the water

It had been the favourite holiday destination for the noble Lombard families since the 18th century among which the Borromeo family, the prestigious family with Florentine origins as well as the Visconti family. Lake Maggiore is among the most appreciated Italian lakes, it has become an attraction for the Italian and the foreign artists too. It borders on Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland, it’s surrounded and protected by the cold Northern wind and by the hills and the mountains. The Borromean Islands are the heart of this lake, it’s a little heaven of art and nature that was deeply loved by Ernest Hemingway and by the English Royal Family and it is the destination of big tourists waves from Central Europe nowadays. The monumental Isola Bella overlooked by the grand Borromean Palace and its amazing gardens is sided by the Isola Madre which features a botanic garden full of rare species of plants and by the Isola dei Pescatori and the islet of San Giovanni, set by Pallanza and the rock of Marghera.

Isola Madre - DSC_0169Isola Madre - Photo e-borghi

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Exotic elegance

You can almost touch it from Stresa. It was once an area of fishermen then it was completely changed by Carlo III Borromeo in 1630 and it has then become an amazing  jewel in the next forty years. Isola Bella is the perfect match of the tiny village, the gardens and the Baroque palace that features its Northern area. It’s a piece of land in the heart of lake Maggiore which is featured by narrow streets, staircases, porches, tiny shops and the stalls overlooking the lake that are surrounded by the restaurants’ smells. The Borromen Palace overlooks the island, it’s a treasure chest of the Baroque art that features beautiful marble rooms that are embellished with precious plasters, decorations, tapestries, crystal chandeliers, paintings and precious furniture. Obelisks, bushes, banisters and statues feature the ten terraces that make the Italian garden which is covered in exotic plants and thousands of flowers for an explosion of colours and scents.

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Baroque glows

The Borromean Palace on the Bella combines the elegance and the harmony, it’s featured by big rooms and beautiful furniture. The gallery of tapestries deserves to be seen, there are precious Flemish tapestries, the Music room where some precious instruments are exhibits, the Medals Room where ten wooden gold medals represent the main events in the life of San Carlo Borromeo and the Throne room which is a tiny museum of the Baroque from Lombardy. An helicoidal staircase reaches the caves that are six rooms with decorations that remind the seabed, this is a very cool room where guests could relax  and it’s all covered in black and white stones. The Italian Garden frames the wonderful Baroque palace, it is displayed on ten terraces and it’s 37 metres high. It’s spread with flowers and rare exotic plants and in the middle of the park there is the Teatro Massimo where the statue of the wild ox stands out. It was the family sign of Borromeo, both sides are decorated with the statues of the nature and of the art and they are surrounded by the obelisks, niches, fountains and meadows where the white peacocks exhibit their beauty.

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Narrow streets and boats

It’s handful of minutes by ferry from Isola Bella the picturesque village of fishermen. During the short trip that connects the two islands you pass by the islet of Malghera which is featured by a tiny beach where the gulls find their quiet shelter far from the noise of ferries. The island of Fishermen is also called Superiore, it’s entirely occupied by the village surrounded by water where the boats and the ferried stop thus offering poetic and inspiring sceneries. It has been inhabited by the fishermen for many centuries, it is a network of narrow streets full of tiny shops and restaurants that spread the smell of the fried fish and give beautiful water views. The church of San Vittore’s clock- tower overlooks the inhabited centre, it features an apsis that dates back to the 11th century and it keeps precious paintings dating back to the 17th century as well as the wooden statues of the fishermen’s patron saints Andrea and Pietro and a fresco dating back to the16th century that portrays Sant’Agata.

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Stresa cookies Margheritine - Manokhina Natalia - shutterstock_1308746122Stresa cookies Margheritine - Photo Manokhina Natalia

Citrons and pheasants

The Isola Madre is the biggest island and it’s the nearest to Verbania. It’s one of the most beautiful natural frescos Lake Maggiore. Once it was an orchard the nit became an olive grove then a citrus grove. The botanic garden is famous for the blossoming of camellia, azaleas and rhododendrons as well as the lemons, the citrons and the  ginkgo biloba. The pheasants, the parrots and the peacocks freely live in this garden which is spread with exotic flowers, shady avenues and rare plants. You can breathe a far unusual nature here. The unique natural heritage is enriched with the palazzo Borromeo where you can see the furniture coming from other historical residences that belonged to the noble family. The Venetian Sitting-room and the area dedicated to the puppet theatre are really beautiful, you can breathe the luxury of the Borromean time in this palace surrounded by the canopy beds, the tapestries, the furniture, the paintings and the collection of pottery and dolls. The burial chapel can’t be missed too.

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Isola Madre - Cashmir Cypress  | e-borghi
Isola Madre - Cashmir Cypress
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Isola Madre  | e-borghi
Isola Madre
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Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace  | e-borghi
Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace
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Isola Bella - gardens  | e-borghi
Isola Bella - gardens
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Isola Bella  | e-borghi
Isola Bella
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Isola Bella - Borromeo Palace  | e-borghi
Isola Bella - Borromeo Palace
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Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace  | e-borghi
Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace
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Antique four-poster bed in the Borromeo Palace - Isola Madre  | e-borghi
Antique four-poster bed in the Borromeo Palace - Isola Madre
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Isola Madre - Puppet Theatre in the Borromeo Palace  | e-borghi
Isola Madre - Puppet Theatre in the Borromeo Palace
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Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace  | e-borghi
Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace
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Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace  | e-borghi
Isola Madre - inside Borromeo Palace
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Isola Madre - Borromeo Palace  | e-borghi
Isola Madre - Borromeo Palace
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