The Garden Guide

Isola Bella

Photograph © Isabella Ramsay
Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Photograph © Isabella Ramsay
Photograph © Isabella Ramsay
Photograph © Isabella Ramsay
A small rocky island in Lake Maggiore is wholly occupied by the Borromeo villa and its garden extravaganza. Soil was shipped in. Like a flower-strewn barge, the island now drifts amongst the snow-capped mountains of the lake. Following the baroque taste for placing a villa at the centre of a layout and allowing avenues to draw the scenery into a garden, Isola Bella employs the lake and mountains as garden features. Local legend relates that the ladies of Borromeo's household asked the Count to build on the island so that they would not have to listen to prisoners screaming in the dungeons of his mainland castle. The stepped terraces remind one of painters' interpretations of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Lago Maggiore, Piemonte, Italy

End March to end September. Daily. Open 9am to 12 noon and 1.30pm to 5pm.

Entrance fee

Visit the Isola Bella website

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  • over 4 years by Almerie Fourie 5 / 5

    We visited this beautiful place in July 2011 and it was an experience we will never forget. When visiting Stresa it is a "must see" place. The gardens are magnificent.

    Almerie Fourie and Elma Van Eeden
    South Africa
  • about 6 years by miklos neumann 5 / 5

    1947 my wife and i spent our honeymoon on this beautiful isola bella. the lovely pictures brought back many pleasant mementos.

    thank you miklos
    2010 04 16 montreal canada
  • about 8 years by be-am 4 / 5

    In its unique and consistent design doubtless one of the wonders of the world!
    The pallace and the gardens form a masterpiece of luxuriant baroque garden design - exclusively underlined by the white fantasy peacocks lordly looks...
    Regretfully not every deck of the "caravel" is open to the public - and one has to share it with loads of art lovers...
    A "must" to see!

    NB: A very fine contrast to the aristocratic island presents the adjacent "fishermens" Isola superiore with its rural ambiance of equal beauty!

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