The Borromean Islands
(It. Isole Borromee
) are a group of three small islands
and two islets
in the Italian part of Lago Maggiore
, located in the western arm of the lake, between Verbania
to the north and Stresa
to the south. Together totalling just 50 acres (20 hectares) in area, they are a major local tourist attraction for their picturesque setting.
Their name derives from the Borromeo family, which started acquiring them in the earlier sixteenth century (Isola Madre) and still owns some of them (Isola Madre, Bella, San Giovanni) today.
Isola Bella, named for Isabella, countess Borromeo, was originally a largely barren rock; after first improvements and buildings, opened by count Carlo III between 1629 and 1652, his son Vitaliano the 6th built an attractive summer palace, bringing in vast quantities of soil in order to build up a system of ten terraces for the garden. The unfinished building displays paintings by Lombard artists and Flemish tapestries.
Isola Madre, the largest of the three, is also noted for its gardens, which are maintained from about 1823 in an English style. Its palace, though uninhabited, is splendidly furnished with XVI to XIX century Italian masterpieces and paintings.
Isola dei Pescatori or Isola Superiore is the only inhabited island in the archipelago. It has a fishing village, which in 1971 had a population of 208.
Two small islets complete the archipelago. Isolino di San Giovanni is located just off Pallanza (today part of Verbania) to the north. The tiny uninhabited rock of Malghera, lies between Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori and offers bushy vegetation and a small beach.
- Official Tourism Gateway Lake Maggiore Official Tourism Gateway
- Isola Superiore, Isola Superiore on Lake Maggiore - Tourist Guide.
- Isola Bella, Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore - Tourist Guide.
- Isola Bella, from The Official Tourism Gateway of Lake Maggiore.
- Isola Madre, from The Official Tourism Gateway of Lake Maggiore.