While staying in Stresa on Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy we took the ferry across the lake to the magnificent Isola Bella ( ‘beautiful island’) It is only about 500 metres to the island and takes about 10 minutes to travel across. Definitely too quick to take in all the beauty. Isola Bella is 320 metres long by 400 metres wide and is entirely occupied by the Palace and its elaborate Italian gardens
The ferry also runs regularly from Laveno, Pallanza and Intra as it is a popular tourist attraction.
I recommend that you go with the big boat, not the small private ones, as they try to sell you a roundtrip on a private tour for 100 Euro when you can get it for as cheap as 15 Euro on the large boats.
The beautiful Italian gardens are spread across ten terraces that are ornamented with flowers, fountains, topiary trees and the ever present white peacocks complete the estate. This was my first introduction to white peacocks. They are just so magnificent and are so happy to pose for the camera.
On a clear day the views are spectacular and if you like photography, this is fabulous.
A visit to the palace can take over an hour if you do the guided audio tour. The gardens will take less time but you may want to just walk around and enjoy the magnificent views. The views from gardens of the lake and the mountains are amazing. An absolute ‘must see’ attraction.
I have been to many amazing palaces/castles in Europe but this was one of my favorites. The setting of the Borromeo Palace on Isola Bella is just stunning. The views from the lake also were splendid.
The palace itself is resplendent with Murano glass chandeliers, Flemish tapestries, paintings by “The Masters” etc. and fascinating cave like grotto rooms filled with Roman and Etruscan antiquities. There’s a small street with shops, cafes and restaurants just a short walk from the dock where you can relax and enjoy the views across the lake. If you are in the area be sure to make the time for this visit.
Stresa is definitely worth visiting also – it is such a delightful town with the most beautiful countryside.