Members of the Borromeo family now reside in Milan but they maintain a baroque palace on the island as their summer home. Visitors are asked to refrain from taking photos inside the palace but I was able to photograph the family motto through an open window.
|Borromeo Palace, Isola Bella|
|Borromeo Family Motto: Humility|
A guide escorted us through the rooms of the palace, including the bedroom occupied by Napoleon in 1797; the ballroom where Prince Charles and Diana were entertained in 1984; and the cooling shell grotto decorated from floor to ceiling in black and white stones. Then we were free to roam the extensive gardens on our own. The first thing I noticed was the grandiose Teatro Massimo adorned with statues, obelisks and colourful flowers.
At the pinnacle of the Teatro Massimo is another symbol of the Borromeo family, the unicorn.
|The Unicorn, Symbol of the Borromeo Family|
The terraced gardens offer lovely views of Lake Maggiore and at every turn are more flowers.
|Garden of Love|
|Lake Maggiore Ferry|
Visiting Isola Bella – and the Chinese white peacocks that make the gardens their home – was on my bucket list and the island was just as beautiful as I'd hoped it would be.
|Chinese White Peacock|
Before exiting the gardens we had a light lunch at the outdoor Caffetteria della Torre.
|Caffetteria della Torre, Isola Bella|
Refreshed and refuelled, we made our way down to the docking area where boats ferry passengers to the other islands and towns of Lake Maggiore.
|Boat Dock, Isola Bella|
|Isola Superiore (or Isola Pescatori)|
If you'd like to learn more about the Borromeo family history or the development of Isola Bella visit the Borromean Islands website.
Next: Italy's Champagne, Franciacorta
Italian Lakes: Lago Maggiore
"P" is for Peacock
"U" is for Unicorn