Baroque garden on the Island of Bella in Lake Maggiore.


Isole Borromeo

Lake Maggiore

The Borromean Gulf forms Lake Maggiore's most beautiful corner, sheltering the Borromean Islands and their spectacular, privately owned palaces. Closest to Stresa is Isola Bella with its ostentatious terraces and cool shell-encrusted grottoes; tiny Isola Superiore, packed with fish restaurants, sits next door. The luxuriant tropical gardens of Isola Madre beckon further afield. Regular ferries link all three islands. Note that the admission price to visit the palaces and gardens is separate from the ferry ticket needed to access the islands.

Just offshore at Verbania Pallanza is tiny Isola San Giovanni, once the residence of conductor Toscanini, and still the private summer residence of the Borromeo family, which owns all the palaces.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lake Maggiore attractions

1. Palazzo Borromeo

0.03 MILES

Presiding over 10 tiers of spectacular terraced gardens roamed by peacocks, this baroque palace is arguably Lake Maggiore's finest building. Wandering the…

2. Chiesa di San Vittore

0.35 MILES

This tiny church on equally tiny Isola Superiore generally gets more tourists than congregation, except on 14 August when its saintly figurine – the…

3. Lungolago di Stresa

0.86 MILES

For the best passeggiata (afternoon stroll) on Lake Maggiore head for Stresa, where a 2km-long lakeside promenade meanders through florid gardens and past…

4. Isola Madre

1.17 MILES

The closest of the three islands to Verbania, Isola Madre is entirely taken up by the Palazzo Madre and the lovely gardens that surround it. The 16th- to…

5. Parco della Villa Pallavicino

1.54 MILES

An easy 1km walk southeast of central Stresa along the SS33 main road, the Pallavicino is a 19th-century neoclassical villa set in banked lakeside grounds…

6. Giardino Botanico Alpinia

1.62 MILES

More than 1000 alpine and subalpine species flourish in this 4-hectare botanical garden set partway up Monte Mottarone. It was founded in 1934 and…

7. Villa Rusconi-Clerici

2.14 MILES

This 19th-century villa with English-style gardens hosts occasional concerts and other events, though it's mostly used for weddings and other conferences …

8. Villa Giulia

2.15 MILES

Theatrical Villa Giulia, with its towering lemon-yellow facade and colonnaded balconies, has a photogenic setting on the lakeside. Originally the home of…