Me on the boat to The Borromean Islands.
The Lago Maggiore has a lot of interesting places which lay around the lake. This sight we visited was actually located IN the lake. The Borromean Islands are a group of three small islands which are located in the Italian part of Lago Maggiore. Just like a lot of places around the lake, the islands belong to the Borromeo family. This aristocratic family meant a lot for the region around the Lago Maggiore, as well as the Catholic Reformation in the area. A lot of buildings, statues and churches are associated with the family or named after them. Especially Federico (The Archbishop of Milan) and Carlo (Saint and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church) Borromeo are well known figures. There’s even a pizza named after them in a lot of restaurants, lucky bastards!
But let’s get back to what it’s all about: the beautiful Borromean Islands.
There are three islands, two of them still belong to the Borromeo family. The three islands are Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Madre. A couple of places around the lake offer boat trips to the islands. We took the boat in Stresa. Isola Madre is private and you have to pay a lot of money to get there, so we decided to only visit the other two. When you park your car, Italian men hurry themselves to your car to make sure that you will choose for their boat. I didn’t expect that this would be such a big tourist attraction. We came early but there were already a lot of people. This wasn’t a problem, there were no waiting lines because so many boats went off and on towards the islands. The boats were small and open, so you had a great view. You could see the islands from a distance and take pictures.
Isola dei Pescatori.
We first took the boat to Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island).
Pescatori doesn’t belong to the Borromeos anymore. This is the only island which is inhabited all year long. It has a population of about 50 people. The fact that there are a lot of restaurants, souvenir shops and hotels show that it’s a big tourist attraction. One restaurant would be enough for 50 people don’t you think? Pescatori has this typical Italian style, which is beautiful. When you walk around the island, you see a lot of nice architecture. As you can see on my pictures, the combination of architecture, water and flora is perfect for me. In about an hour you can walk around the island and see everything. Every full hour, the boat went on to the next island. This was perfect and you didn't have to wait for long.
Isola Bella view.
And that next island was Isola Bella (named after countess Isabella of the Borromeo family). Almost the whole island is filled with the Palazzo Borromeo and the huge garden. Unfortunately, the entrance fee to the garden and palace was almost as high as the boat trip itself. So we decided to just chill on the island, have a drink (there were some nice outside terraces, although pretty expensive) and walk around. We had a great day and took the boat back to Stresa.