Isola Bella is the most famous of the Borromeo Islands and when you see it today you can hardly imagine it as the tiny fishing village it once was. In 1670 Count Vitaliano Borromeo started the building of a monumental baroque palace, and began landscaping the majestic scenery of the gardens for which the Island became so famous. The original name of the island was Isola San Vittore, but was son changed to the more suitable Isola Isabella, after Carlo’s wife and over the years it was shortened to Isola Bella. 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.
Today the island is famous above all for the magnificent Palazzo Borromeo and its gardens. A visit to the palace is a journey through the splendors of the past. The stately Borromeo residence contains priceless masterpieces: tapestries, furniture, and paintings by great masters. The Palace itself is full of ornate rooms which remind you of a past full of grand receptions and sumptuous feasts. The most curious part of the Palace are the grottoes; the walls are adorned with a mosaic of shells and pebbles. Don’t miss the splendid views of the Alps in the Medals Room. In 1935 the palace was a location of meeting between Mussolini and British and French diplomats. Unfortunately, the meeting failed in its attempt to scare Germany out of starting World War II.
After visiting the Palace, you exit into the magnificent gardens which are made up of no less than 10 terraces which slope down towards the lake. The stepped terraces remind one of painters’ interpretations of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The entry to the garden is only via the palace: the gardens bloom with every variety of trees and rare flowers which, in their succession of ornate terraces, provide a classic, inimitable example of the celebrated “Italian garden” of that period. As well as the rare and exotic plants which provide the gardens with colors from March to October, there are interesting features such as the open-air theatre and the “Piano della Canfora” which houses a 150 year old laurel tree.
Discover the hidden charm of Italian landscapes! The Isola Bella offer the perfect atmosphere to host your wedding.