May 11, 2015

Isola Bella, the Beautiful Island

On Lake Maggiore in northern Italy there's an island called Isola Bella which translates to English as 'beautiful island'. This island certainly is beautiful but it was actually named after Isabella Borromeo, the wife of the man who created this little piece of paradise.

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.

Teatro Massimo

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

Related Posts:
Italian Lakes: Lago Maggiore
"P" is for Peacock
"U" is for Unicorn


  1. Lovely pictures. So want to go back to that area and spend time.

    1. Thank you, Denise. It's a great place to slow down and relax.

  2. Most definitely 'beautiful island' pictures. I am cruising through on the A to Z Road Trip. I hope to return to visit you again! Wonderful blog

    1. Thank you, Paula - I appreciate you stopping by.

  3. Keeping the momentum of a-z alive with the road trip, Sandy at Bridge and Beyond

    Looks beautiful! Imagine having an island named after you, wow.

    1. I'm planning to do the road trip on my weekends - I'll stop by for a visit!


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