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“Another example of the wealth of Italian Families”
Review of Isola Bella

Isola Bella
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Borromean Islands Hop-On Hop-Off Ferry Tour from...
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Owner description: One of three magical islands on Lake Maggiore, Isola Bella charms visitors with its magnificent Baroque palace and terraced gardens that slope to the lake.
Reviewed October 13, 2012

We had a nice visit to Isola Bella while with an Insight Tour. This is another example of great wealth some Italian families have accumulated (Uffizzi Gallery in Florence and Borghese grounds and museum in Rome). The palace was impressive with it's artwork and statues. The grounds were impeccably groomed. The Borromeo family was actually staying there when we visited so the upper floors were off limits. We had a tour guide, who was very knowledgeable and gave us historical information we would have not gotten with an audio tour.

2  Thank rfenton231
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"beautiful gardens"
in 23 reviews
"borromeo family"
in 23 reviews
"over the top"
in 14 reviews
"borromeo palace"
in 12 reviews
"boat trip"
in 16 reviews
"entrance fee"
in 10 reviews
"audio guide"
in 10 reviews
"three islands"
in 15 reviews
"white peacock"
in 9 reviews
"formal gardens"
in 8 reviews
"borromean islands"
in 16 reviews
"well worth the visit"
in 7 reviews
"amazing island"
in 6 reviews
"throne room"
in 5 reviews
"italian garden"
in 5 reviews
in 7 reviews
"water taxi"
in 6 reviews

372 - 376 of 1,224 reviews

Reviewed October 11, 2012

On our recent fast-paced tour of Italy, we had a very pleasant rainy morning visit to the Borromean Isola Bella at Lake Maggorie. The rain actually was a blessing as there weren't as many people visiting..The summer Palace there is incredible. Take the tour and learn all you can about this family's incredible history and wealth. The Borromeans still stay at this palace one month each summer, living in the upstairs portion of the house. The gardens are fantastic, with fabulous statues and marvelous flower beds. The hot house is as you might expect, over-the-top. Plenty of vendors here (even in the rain) and we bought some small leather goods at reasonable rates. The boat ride over from Baveno was pleasant too! A day not to be missed!

2  Thank Critter123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 1, 2012

Isola Bella, one of the 3 Borromean Islands in Lake maggiore, has a Palace, impressive formal Italian gardens and tourist shops and restaurants too but it does get very crowded so I would recommend visiting early in the day. If you are interested in grand houses and their contents then get on a tour or rent an audio guide. We enjoyed our time there but preferred the tranquility of Isola Madre.
The islands are all served by frequent boat services from Stresa and all 3 islands can be visited in one day on a discounted ticket from the 'official' boat service. There are many other smaller boats offering the ferry service but, as the salesmen were so pushy, we avoided those so we never did find out which offers the best deal!!

1  Thank tjmutch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2012

As part of a tour group, we took a launch over to Isola Bella to spend a few hours. The driver circled the island for a quick view before we docked at one of the stone ramps. I was amazed that only one extended family was living here at one time or another. At the time of our trip, early September, we were informed thy family members were in residence. We were greeted by a lovely tour guide who was employed by the family. She had a beautiful accent and was extremely knowledgable. Most of us were disappointed that we couldn't take interior pictures, only views of the horizon or grounds from the gigantic windows. We walked thru perhaps 10-12 rooms, then thru the grottos beneath the house, then we were allowed free rein in the gardens. There was no upper story access as the family was living there, but not sure if we could have gone there even if they weren't, as we were told that Isola Bella is a private residence which allows tours.
The gardens were extensive with views all around. Possibly due to the time of year, there were not many blooms, but the plants were still interesting, as was the upper garden with the views and statuary.
I think that we had about three hours total on the island, which was sufficient. Did stop at their little gift shop for a few postcards. Reminds me of the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

2  Thank jorn09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 22, 2012

Isola Bella
We visited all three Borromean islands on Lake Maggiore (see my reviews on Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori for info on the other two) and this was my favourite! Totally over-the-top – an exercise in impressing other people! The opulence of the palace décor and contents is awesome (as intended!) Take in 16 century Brussels tapestries with their grotesque creatures, the bed in which Napoleon slept and the music room which holds valuable instruments and where the Stresa conference was held and where Mussolini almost joined the Allied cause against Hitler! You can pay extra to visit the Borromean painting gallery (densely packed with more than 2,000 paintings!) and throne room (we didn't} and for an audio guide to the palace (2.50 euros) Look out for the House of Borromeo's symbol (the unicorn) and for their motto (ironically “humilitas”!)
You emerge from the sumptuous palace and grottoes into the spectacular and immaculate Baroque Italian gardens, arguably one of the most famous in Italy There are ten terraces of statues, fountains and basins, the topmost giving spectacular views over Lake Maggiore and excellent photo opportunities (especially if the white peacocks are displaying – they weren't when we visited). Unfortunately the gardens were hit by the 7-minute storm which decimated the Villa Taranto gardens and seem to have hit two of the topmost obelisks on Isola Bella, as well as causing some other damage, so that the gardens were temporarily closed :-( However, they have now reopened and only one or two areas were closed off to the public when we visited .

Warning – there is little to do or see on Isola Bella except visit the tourist shops and cafés UNLESS you buy a ticket for the palace and gardens

Tip: We too bought our ticket at the ferry terminal which gave a day's unlimited ferry travel and access to the two paid islands, saving time queuing up on the island and making considerable savings, especially if you are planning on taking the Lago Maggiore Express the previous or following day. Ask for the 2 day programme (40 euros for travel ) and then buy a joint ticket for Isola Madre and Isole Bella (18 euros – they have to be visited on the same day) This saves 8.90 + 6 euros = 14.90 euros pp!

1  Thank Margaret151151
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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