Isola Bella

Enchanted by art and nature

A fascinating and timeless place where art, history and nature merge in the unique setting of the Borromeo Gulf.

At the time Carlo III and Vitaliano VI Borromeo launched the construction of this villa, they were probably already imagining the awe and wonder that the view here would inspire in future visitors. They decided to use this view – with the Alps and Alpine foothills encircling the golf and protecting the small villages that overlook it – as an essential element in a monumental complex that is unequaled in the world. Visitors to the island today will be amazed by the grandeur of the Borromeo residence, but then their eyes might absentmindedly shift to gaze in wonder at the magnificence of the giant snow-topped mountains, which contrast with the many hues of blue in the lake and sky, and myriad colors in the surrounding flora.

The imposing property, built next to the old fishermen’s hamlet, was purposefully created in the shape of a boat, and in fact it seems to be headed towards the Isola dei Pescatori. Building this enormous “watercraft” required the transport of tons of material from dry land in order to shape this extraordinary Baroque palace and its awe-inspiring Italian terrace garden.

The residence, which was built in several stages, was designed to represent the family’s ostentation and distinction: over twenty rooms and salons represent the Borromeo family, one of the most important aristocratic dynasties in Italy. The family continues to care for this property and maintain its original splendor.

Visitors with a romantic eye might be able to catch a glimpse of the famous personalities who visited the palace, in the pages of history expressed in the palace’s exquisite decorations and priceless works of art. Closing your eyes, you can still almost hear the swish of elegant crinoline gowns that were worn during large receptions, or smell the aroma of cigars and brandy that accompanied important political discussions. And what about music? Anyone who listens with their heart can still here how the orchestra’s notes used to reverberate in the endless beauty of pastel colors and the play of flickering candles that lit the splendid, blown-glass chandeliers.

Not even the most distracted visitor will remain indifferent to the decorations that embellish this residence: extraordinary mosaics, multi-colored marble elements, Flemish tapestries and lovely plasterwork that frames finely-made statues and paintings. And everything is further enhanced by the views that expand out beyond the bright windows.
A sloping garden was created to complement the residence: on ten terraces, which seem to rise up from the water, statues and obelisks were arranged in order to enhance and complement the architectural display. Here, highly decorative and exotic plants thrive in an ideal environment.

As you leave the Borromeo property, a walk through the ancient fishermen’s hamlet leads to the boarding area. The hamlet has been under restoration for several years now, and offers a variety of restaurants, local handicraft shops and boutiques where the finest Italian products can be found: from household products by Alessi to apparel by Herno, as well as silk from Como and a rich selection of food and wine products.

Isola Bella, the Beautiful Island, is not just the pride and joy of Lake Maggiore and this area; it’s also a place where visitors can discover the very best Made in Italy products.

Discover this attraction with our “Queens of the Lake” cruise

An entire day devoted to discovering the Borromeo Islands: elegant Isola Bella, lush Isola Madre, and rustic Isola Pescatori will be the protagonists of this excursion.


Discover the area

Isola dei pescatori

Discover history and traditions

Isola Madre

A precious jewel, in the center of the Borromean Gulf

Villa Taranto

Captain Neal’s challenge

Villa Pallavicino

A park overlooking the lake

Rocca di Angera

A medieval fortress at the end of the lake


The pearl of Lake Maggiore

Santa Caterina

A hermitage clinging to the rock


The trendiest city on the lake

Villa Ducale

High society, culture, and spirituality

Landscape Museum

The Verbano and its surrounding landscape depicted by renowned painters