Isola Bella (lit. Beautiful Island) sits in the wonderful waters of Lago (Lake) Maggiorre, North Italy. It is 400 metres from the shoreline of the lovely town of Stresa.
Isola Bella is a very small island just some 320 metres long by 400 metres wide but don’t let the size fool you. It is an amazing place to visit and has impressed many a royal visitor, dignitaries, and the rich and famous. Charles Dickens who visited the island, wrote in 1844, “For however fanciful and fantastic the Isola Bella may be, and is, it still is beautiful.”
The island was once just a rocky crag occupied by a tiny fishing village but in 1632 Carlo 111 of the House of Borromeo began the construction of a palazzo (palace), which he dedicated to his wife, Isabella D’Adda and the island is named after her. The gardens were inaugurated in 1671 and today they are magnificent and patrolled by magnificent white peacocks. (see photo below)
I visited Isola Bella in May 2016 and was overwhelmed by the beauty and history of this island, packed into such a small landmass. The palace, gardens and a few other properties forming a mini village are wonderful to see. My camera was kept very busy taking photos and you can see some of them here in this blog post.
Access to the the island is by one of the many water taxis ferrying passengers to and from Stresa, Laveno, Pallanza and Intra. The island has a quality gift shop (not overly expensive) and cafe. In what I would call the village area there are a number of small shops catering for tourists.
When you visit the island do allow plenty of time to visit the Palazzo with its beautiful furnishings and magnificent views of the lake. The Palazzo also contains many beautiful works of art as you might expect from somewhere that money has been no object. The Flemish tapestries made of gold and silk are something to spend some time looking at, in fact, everything is craftsmanship at its very best.
The gardens are beautifully laid out and designed so that many wonderful viewpoints over the lake and other parts of the gardens are created. A great deal of time and effort went into producing these gardens and no doubt does so today to keep them looking as they do.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Italy please do visit Isola Bella and spend time enjoying the ‘beautiful island’.
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