Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands
The second-largest lake in Italy, Lake Maggiore offers historical, artistic and scenic treasures of great charm: from rich palaces and sumptuous villas to magnificent Italian and English gardens.
The pearl of Lake Maggiore is Stresa, a small town with a very ancient history situated on the west coast. The town is famous for its splendid mansions, parks and lakeside promenade with views of the Borromean Islands and the surrounding mountains.
Stresa is also the perfect starting point for excursions to the Borromean Islands, rocky jewels that make up a small world-famous archipelago: Isola Madre, Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, the small island of San Giovanni and the Malghera rock.
Tour of the archipelago
The archipelago takes its name from the Borromeo family, who have owned the islands since the 14th century and who still own the islands of Isola Maggiore and Isola Bella, which are open to the public.
So, this is our suggestion for a day’s visit amidst water, gardens and Baroque art:
Isola Madre: also known as Isola Maggiore, is the largest island in the archipelago. The island is home to Palazzo Borromeo, built in the 16th century, famous for its sumptuous furnishings and Venetian drawing room with floral decorations. In addition to the palace, it is worth visiting the English garden, where you can admire many different species of flowers and plants and a breathtaking view of the lake.
Isola Bella: the smallest of the islands, Isola Bella is a pearl that houses the Baroque palace built in 1630 by Count Carlo Borromeo II, who transformed the island from a fishing village into a rich residence with gardens that are still recognised as the most beautiful Baroque gardens in Europe.
Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island): the only island to be inhabited all year round, this is a village with narrow, very characteristic alleyways where you can also find trattorias to enjoy the local cuisine.