Isola Bella on the Lake Maggiore – why is it a must to go there?
Italia is often described as one of the most romantic countries and there are millions of photos which prove that everything there was created with style and passion. Besides, there is one particular place which represents the eternal love for the person. It is a small island on the Lake Maggiore.
Isola Bella (which is translated as “beautiful island”) is a small piece of Italy, only 320 x 400 m. in the centre of the legendary Lake Maggiore – one of the most popular places for travelers in Italy. Almost all of the islands’ territory is occupied by a palace and a large park around it which in 17th century belonged to the influential family of Borromeo.
The history of the place
The story of this place begins in 1636, when Charles III decided to build a large palace for his wife Isabella. With time its name became a phonetically abbreviated union of two words: Island (Isle) and Isabella. The architecture of the buildings there is done by Angelo Crivelli, Francesco Castelli and, from the end of the XVII century – Carlo Fontana.
In the 18th century, the island was popular as a residence among traveling in Italy aristocrats. The most famous visitors were Napoleon and Josephine, and English Lords. The palace building was built in the early Lombard Baroque style and nowadays it is a functioning museum. The interior is also made in baroque stylistics and decorated with paintings, sculptures and antique furniture. The museum includes the Napoleon’s Hall, the Hall of Tapestries and the Luke-Georgiano Hall, where the artist’s paintings are presented.
In 1630 it was only a rocky island with fishing settlements. Firstly, they built the fortress and then, as it was popular among aristocrats, wonderful garden – the first terraces were erected in 1652. 15 years later architect Francesco Castelli turned the castle into a palace and designed a garden around it – it included about ten terraces (one above the other), surrounded by balustrades and decorated with sculptures and obelisks. Their location emphasized the natural terrain, towering 36 meters above the lake.
The design of the garden landscape was created to make it possible to survey the palace, the surrounding area and the lake from various points of view. The two upper terraces included large arches, from which the paths diverged in different directions. The view from each of them was framed with statues and obelisks.
Most of the figures were made by sculptor Carlo Simonetta. The central statue depicted the unicorn, which represented the heraldic symbol of the Borromean family. In the eastern part of the garden there are large lawns with decorative plantations. In general, the entire landscape complex embodies the idea of baroque theatrical scenography.
How to get there and activities<
As it is situated on the lake, the only way to get there is by boat. The nearest cities which offer ferry services are Stresa, Laveno, Pallanza, Intra. The only activities there are walking and taking photos and usually one day is more than enough. Currently, for people who travel around Italy, the island annually hosts a festival of classical music.