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Borromeo palace on Isola Bella: a fairy tale on a fairy island


Borromeo Palace is a real fairy tale embodied in stone which symbolizes the wealth and influence of famous Italian family.


Photo: Falk Lademann, https://www.flickr.com/photos/coreforce/1211776092/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

All alpine lakes are exceptionally beautiful. Lush greenery and mountain peaks create landscapes of incredible beauty. Besides, the former are also famous for their crystal clear water.

On the border between Italy and Switzerland there’s a lake, which in terms of beauty and grandeur cannot be compared with any other lakes. We talk about Lago Maggiore. The size of the lake is impressive: it is 65 kilometers long and up to 10 kilometers wide. The climate here is amazingly mild. Although it is northern part of Italy, camellias, azaleas and verbena, which are very fond of warmth, grow here.

Photo: michael clarke stuff, https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelclarke/6155378533/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)


Photo: michael clarke stuff, https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelclarke/6155391581/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Photo: CucombreLibre, https://www.flickr.com/photos/33200530@N04/35210532095/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Four islands that have belonged to the Borromeo family for a long time, are the main attractions of the lake. This family hails from Florence, but in 1370 was expelled from there. In the XIV and XV centuries, they were famous bankers in Milan and Venice. They owned a vast region. In the sixteenth century they gave up banking and lived as aristocrats on their estate.

Photo: Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/6731158321/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/6731216343/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

By the 17th century one of the members of the Borromeo family started to build a palace with a magnificent garden on the small island called Isola Bella. The complex was dedicated to his wife Isabella.

Photo: Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/6731191155/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/6731264563/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/6731282495/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Interior of the palace is amazing: its halls are decorated with paintings, among which are the works of Giordano and Bernandino Luini, and sculptures. Luxurious antique furniture has survived to our times. At the bottom of the palace there are six grottoes decorated with shells.

Photo: Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/6731240321/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: Archangel12, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archangel12/6731234921/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: Elliott Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/27954156974/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

The palace was built for a long time. Famous architects of that time, Angello Crivelli and Bernini’s student Carlo Fontana, took part in its creation.

Photo: Elliott Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/27953323844/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Photo: Elliott Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/27955894483/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

From the beginning of the work, all the noble people of Europe followed the construction of the palace. After the job was done, many considered it an honor to attend the banquet. Even Napoleon I Bonaparte with his wife Josephine de Beauharnais honored the ceremony with their presence.

Photo: Elliott Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/27955269523/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)


Photo: Elliott Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/28262520460/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Photo: Elliott Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/27953358043/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

The gardens surrounding the palace are incomparable. From these terraces one can admire the magnificent landscape, the lake and the palace itself. There are ten terraces in the garden. The two upper ones include large arches, from which paths diverge in different directions. Unique exotic plants grow on each terrace. Despite the place is located not in the subtropics, orange and lemon trees grow here.

Photo: Elliott Brown, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/28538953916/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Photo: Florian Plag, https://www.flickr.com/photos/florianplag/4950876696/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: Ed Webster, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ed_webster/6298729478/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

On the territory there are many niches, fountains and ponds, as well as sculptures. Most of the latter were made by Carlo Simonetta. At the very top of the terrace, at an altitude of 34 meters, there is a sculpture of a unicorn, which is the symbol of Borromeo family.

Photo: Andy Hay, https://www.flickr.com/photos/andyhay/10423158015/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: Florian Plag, https://www.flickr.com/photos/florianplag/4949326088/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Photo: vince42, https://www.flickr.com/photos/84609865@N00/5837263380/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)

Nowadays, the palace houses a museum where everyone can get acquainted with the life of the aristocracy of those times. The island annually hosts a festival of classical music.

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Borromeo palace on map:

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