Just imagine a lake, large enough to extend between Lombardy, Piedmont and Switzerland. A stretch of water about 212 square kilometers, which Mother Nature has blessed with unique features and where man did his best to complete an almost perfect work of nature. In the southern part of Lake Maggiore, on the Piedmont side, 5 jewels form the archipelago of Borromean islands.
The archipelago of Borromean islands
Borromean islands, called “Borromei” in the local dialect, owe their name to the family that owned them, historically. Still today two of the major islands are owned by the Borromeo dynasty. The entire archipelago is composed not only of islands but also of large islets and rocks.
The five beautiful Borromean islands
Isola Madre, Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori (also known as Isola Superiore), Isolino di San Giovanni and Scoglio della Malghera, are the names of the 5 beautiful islands, which can be reached by boat, sailing from the small pier of Stresa or from the nearby small port of Pallanza. Isola Madre, Mother Island, is a real wonder of nature.
Majestic and ancient trees cover most of the surface of the island, which also houses a wonderful palace owned by the Borromeo family and a beautiful and small chapel. In addition, the Palazzo dei Borromei, open to the public for over 40 years, will make you relive the customs and traditions of Italy during the 17th century, proudly showing priceless paintings and heirlooms.
The second, in order of size, is the Isola Bella, that is Beautiful Island. Not to be confused with the Sicilian islet of the same name, this small wonder partially recalls the “older” sister. It has preserved, almost unchanged, the features taken centuries ago. Less rich in vegetation than Isola Madre, Isola Bella housed a small fishing village and a luxurious palace, the Borromeo palace. Like the previous one, Isola Bella inspires and attracts many tourists. The interior of Palazzo Borromeo is enchanting and splendid. Although beautiful, the two largest islands are not inhabited by permanent residents.
Fishermen’s Island, San Giovanni Island and Malghera Rock
Despite its small size, the Isola dei Pescatori, Fishermen’s Island, 350 meters on the longest side, has still a historic handful of inhabitants today. Less rich in vegetation, for obvious reasons related to the numerous houses, this small island still has beaches to enjoy. San Giovanni Island, better known as San Giovanni islet, is literally separated by a few tens of meters of water. Although the beauty of nature and a seventeenth-century palace attract the attention of many tourists, there is no way to visit the island or the palace, since the whole island is private and therefore closed to the public. Lastly, Lo Scoglio di Malghera, Malghera Rock, is also famous as the rock of lovers. Small but delicious, the rock can be reached by boat. However, a small beach all around and a modest presence of vegetation will make you experience a nice holiday.