The Borromeo islands are small islands emerging from the sparkling waters of Lago Maggiore in the North of Italy. They were named after the aristrocatic family, Conte Vitaliano Borromeo, who ruled the land in ancient times. A very powerful family that built castels, fortresses and villas all over the place. Buildings that can still be seen and marvelled at.
The Borromeo islands consist of five small islands called respectively: Isola Madre, Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori, Isolino di San Giovanni e Scoglio della Malghera.
The biggest of the five is Isola Madre. One of its most attractive features is a beautiful garden full of exotic flowers and rare plants coming from very far-away places and where peacocks, parrots and pheasants can roam freely. Isola Madre is also famous for its azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. An extraordinary blossoming indeed: check it out and you will agree with me.
The place also boasts the biggest Kashmirian cypress in Europe. A tree two hundred years old, not bad at all, is it? There’s plenty to see, trust me: cedars, lemon trees, rare hibiscuses, Ginkgos and last but not least trellises with a very, very old wisteria which in April (its blossoming time usually starts around 19th April and reaches its zenith around 4th May) makes the place a real heaven and fills the air with very sweet fragrances.
This ‘collection’ of flowers that the Prince planted in the garden more than 25 years ago was the first array of flowers of such beauty and importance here in Italy. At first these plants were imported from South America but later on they were replaced by other varieties coming from Japan and China which usually have more beautiful and showy flowers.
In this garden there are more than twenty different kinds of wisteria. They vary in color, fruit and mode of growing. Most of them can now be seen (and admired of course) along the huge staircase sweetly sloping towards the crystal blue water.
I personally liked Isola Bella with its terraced gardens the best.
In 1632, Count Vitaliano Borromeo began the construction of the monumental Baroque palace and the majestic and scenic gardens, which have made the island famous and which to this day bear witness to the splendors of an era.
The Borromeo family home offers visitors an elegant and sumptuous setting, and it contains priceless works of art such as tapestries, furniture, statues, paintings, and stuccoes. It also has an unusual mosaic grotto, a cool and delightful place.
Once you have visited the palace, there is access to the garden for a pleasant walk. The gardens form an extraordinary, flowered monument laid out over a series of ornate and overlapping terraces, a classic and inimitable example of seventeenth century "Italian garden". The garden contains many rare and exotic plants, and the spectacular blossoming is planned to ensure that it is filled with colors and scents from March until October.
If you want to visit the Borromeo islands here are the opening times: from 15th March to 19th October every day from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. entrance fee: 11 euros; reduced ticket: 5.00