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.