Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Passport to Isola Bella

Drop dead gorgeous! That's it. There is no other way to describe Isola Bella, one of the small Borromean Islands of Lake Maggiore in northern Italy that is wholly occupied by the Borromeo villa and its garden. This is baroque, Italianate style at its best.


I can tell you right now that my next visit to Italy will include a side trip to Isola Bella, the palazzo (palace) dedicated to Countess Isabella D'Adda, wife of Carlo III of the House of Borromeo.


Carlo III, and subsequently his sons and nephew, ensured that the vision and construction of the grand villa and its gardens (that began in 1632) were completed. What was once a rocky crag with a small fishing village in the middle of a lake was transformed by the artistocratic Borromeo family wealth. They shipped in soil, terraced the cliffs and created a magnificent villa to host sumptuous parties and theatrical events for the nobility of Europe.


Today, Isola Bella is a popular tourist attraction, with a regular ferry service from Stresa, Laveno, Pallanza and Intra. As if the villa and gardens weren't enough to entertain you, visit during the annual Stresa Music Festival that takes place among the manicured grounds.


I am drawn to the majestic gardens as much as I am to the palace. Magnifico, splendido, sontuoso!!! Shall we pack?

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