I really like islands. Small islands, where there are no vehicles. Remote islands that to reach them you have to travel a long way, or nearby islands that seem distant more than what they are. I have always been to sea islands until I saw a program on television about the Borromeo islands.

Lake Maggiore Borromean IslandsThe archipelago of the Borromean Islands is a group of three small islands (Isola Madre, Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori) and two islets (Isolino di San Giovanni and Scoglio di Marghera), located in the western arm of Lake Maggiore overlooking Stresa and Pallanza in front of the Borromeo gulf.

The biggest one is Isola Madre (8 hectares), famous for its Botanical Garden filled with rare plants and exotic species: Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Lilies and Camellias. Thanks to the mild climate we can also find exotic animals like the family of parrots Monaens Elic. In the middle of the garden stands the beautiful palace belonging to the Borromeo Family. Renovated in 1978 it is splendidly furnished with XVI to XIX century Italian masterpieces and paintings,  marionette theatres and a collection of French dolls.

Isola dei Pescatori is the only inhabited island in the archipelago. It is 100 meters wide and 350 m long and is still today a picturesque fishing village with the traditional fishing boats anchored along the shore.

The small islet of Isolino di San Giovanni is famous because the well known orchestra director Arturo Toscanini lived in the Mansion Borromeo from 1927 to 1952.  Both the palace and the island are privat and cannot be visited.

How to get there:

Motorway Milano-Laghi (A8) (to Castelletto Ticino connection with A26) Exit Arona follow Strada Statale 33 del Sempione in direction Stresa or A26 Genoa-Gravellona Toce exit Baveno-Stresa.

Visiting times: From March 27 to October 24.
From March to September 9.00 am 12.00 pm/1.30 pm 5.30 pm.
Ottobre: 9.00 am 12.00 pm/1.30 pm

Useful links:

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isole_Borromee

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