The Gardens of Isola Bella

Isola Bella is one of the three Borromean islands on Lake Maggiore and takes its name from one of the wives of the Borromeo – Isabella. The other two islands are called Isola Madre and Isola Superiore. Isola Bella is dominated by the Palazzo Borromeo and its garden. The Borromeo family have owned the islands since the 12th century, in fact, they still use the palazzo as their summer home. At the time we visited, the family was there. We noticed blinds were drawn in some areas of the palazzo and we were informed that it was to give the family some privacy. There is actually a sign to let visitors know that the family are on the island which I’ll get to later.

Let’s start because there are a lot of photos to get through. I will fill you in on the history of Isola Bella along the way (at least what I remember from the tour). We set off from Baveno…

See the bell tower? That’s from the bell tower from Baveno’s parish church.

View from the boat was breathtaking.

We will now pass by Isola Madre…

Just as stunning in black and white, don’t you think?

We now see our destination in the following photos below. The first photo is of the Palazzo. Construction was first began in 1632 and finished in 1959 but technically, the construction remains unfinished to this day. We saw a 3D model inside the palace of what it is supposed to look like. The members of the Borromeo family who have continued the construction have stayed true to the original plans. The island has played host to some very famous people including Napoleon and his wife Josephine, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.

We will now go around the island to the other side to dock. The photo below is of the Baroque style terraced gardens.

Do you remember I mentioned earlier that there’s another sign to let visitors know if the family is on the island? Check out the photo below. See the flag in the middle? If that flag is up, it means that the family is on the island.

Here’s another view of the terraced gardens from the side.

As we come around the corner, you see a glimpse of the sign “Isola Bella” on a white background towards the bottom left of the photo below.

We’re coming close to the docks…

The next photo is one of my favourite photos that I took on this Italy trip.

This is the courtyard that leads to the entrance of the Palazzo (it’s just to the left there). The photo above is directly infront of the courtyard below.

I came across a great site by Reid’s Italy with historical information we heard from the tour and photos of inside the palace. Photos were not allowed to be taken on our tour so this is a great reference for me too 🙂 Here’s a bit of interesting information we found out on the tour which I’ve reiterated here from Reid’s Italy: “It was here, on April 11, 1935, that Mussolini met with Pierre Laval of France and James Ramsey MacDonald of Britain in the so-called Conference of Stresa, a last-ditch attempt to stave off World War II by allying together against Hitler.” There was a document framed on the wall to show the signatures of the attendees of the conference.

You emerge from the Palazzo on to the gardens. I’m going to let the photographs below speak for themselves. But first we have to go up some steps, not many…

… then you are rewarded with this view…

This Baroque style Italian garden is laid out over ten terraces with numerous statues. White peacocks roam the grounds.

The top is a statue of a Unicorn ridden by Love.

Detail of left side.

Detail of the right side.

Detail of the middle portion under the Unicorn statue.

Let’s go up!

Here are some of the views from a little farther up.

Finally at the top!

These are the last few steps and the exit is right in front.

As you come down those steps the photo below will be to your right which leads to the greenhouse. If you turn left, that will take you to the front of the terraced gardens. So much to explore!

Upon exiting the gardens, the photo below is of the first house you notice on your left.

Then you turn right and walk down an alleyway. At the end of the alleyway, you’ll need to hang a left and walk down some steps and at the bottom, you turn right. The following photos were some of the buildings we passed on our way back to the docks.

Back on the water and another view of Isola Madre.

There’s our destination, the Grand Hotel Dino.


About May Dayao

Carpe diem!
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9 Responses to The Gardens of Isola Bella

  1. andy1076 says:

    Beautiful photography! 🙂

  2. Very beautiful destination…very beautiful photographs…wonderfully captured… thank you for sharing…

    and I thought the peacock is a statue too…hehehe 🙂

    • May Dayao says:

      Thank you for your kind words. The scenery was inspiring.

      That was my first time to see white peacocks. I didn’t know what they were at first. We were trying to coach them to open their tails, but without success.

  3. zelmare says:

    What can I say, but WOW! 🙂 Oh, and that one can learn something everyday – I’ve never heard of these islands, even though I’m an avid reader and gatherer of information on travel destinations! 🙂

    • May Dayao says:

      Thanks very much! Glad you liked the post. I didn’t know either about the Conference of Stresa. It was the most interesting tidbit of info I think everyone on the tour took away that day.

  4. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos of such a lovely area of Italy. I enjoyed going on your tour as the weather was so bad when we were in the area that we didn’t get to explore the beautiful islands of Lago Maggiore.

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