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Isola Bella

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.
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

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

Nearby gardens

Local Hotels