"Isole Borromee - fantastic and fanciful" Isola Bella by ettiewyn
Isola Bella Travel Guide: 39 reviews and 135 photos
When we stayed in Milan for a few days in August 2012, we wanted to do a day trip, and when I met VTer AnnemarieC in London, she recommended a trip to the Borromean Islands (Isole Borromee) to me, which are located at Lago Maggiore. I checked many possibilities, as so many day trips are possible from Milan, but in the end I decided to go to these islands - sometimes you just stick with your first idea! I also thought it would be nice to go to the Italian lakes for a day, especially as I was travelling with my mom and we wanted more of a relaxing day, not one packed with museums and churches.
This page is not only about Isola Bella, but also about its two neighbouring islands, Isola Pescatori and Isola Madre. I suggest that you start reading with the Favourite tips, as they first provide an introduction to each of the islands, while the other tips go more into detail.
Fantastic and fanciful - this line I picked from a quote by Charles Dickens, and that is what he called Isola Bella. I think it is just so appropriate, because that is exactly what Isola Bella is - a fantastic and fanciful place with its large palace and its splendid garden. The same goes for Isola Madre, which has an older palace and large parks and gardens that are equally stunning. Isola Pescatori, though, is substantially different, having the atmosphere of a small fishing village, with hidden alleys and corners and local people still living there and going about their daily business, although the business is now tourism. The other two islands belong to the House of Borromee (Isola Bella in parts, Isola Madre in total), the Borromee family once built the fancy palaces there and still own them today. You can read more about this in my tips.
I really enjoyed our day on the islands, I especially liked Isola Pescatori and Isola Madre. However, I think visiting there in August is not a good idea. During the first half of the day it was unbelievably crowded, and the islands are so much defined by tourism that I think it is just not an authentic Italian experience. However, if you can accept this, it is still delightful to visit here: The castles and gardens are simply beautiful, the lake adds to this with its great scenery, going around by boat is good fun, and on Isola Pescatori you can even get away from the crowds if you walk around within the village and get away from the busy lakefront.
Unfortunately we had picket a grey day with hardly any sunshine, therefore my pictures don't really reflect the beauty of the islands.
- Pros:Beautiful scenery, public transport is easy
- Cons:Very, very crowded during high season, an expensive day trip if you add all the costs together, not authentic because it is so touristic
- In a nutshell:It is a good and easy day trip from Milan, but make sure before that this is really what you want!
Isola Bella is the island that is closest to the shore, and from Stresa it can be seen very clearly. Until 1630, this... more travel advice
Isola Madre is the largest of the three islands, and it is also the one that is furthest away from the shore. Therefore,... more travel advice
- See All ISOLA MADRE - the park
- See All ISOLA PESCATORI - Hidden alleys
- Shopping options on the islands
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- "Paradise on earth"
- "Our Island Adventure in 2012"
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