#62 / On the Borromean Islands

#62 / On the Borromean Islands - Marco Moreo Milano

As a tribute to spring and in an attempt to distract us from the unpleasant times we’re currently living in, #awalkwithMarco is becoming a weekly publication: every Sunday, if you fancy, we will keep each other company and discover the most beautiful PARKS AND GARDENS in Italy.


If I have to rank them on my own personal podium, I have no doubt in my mind: it’s a dead heat between the two gardens of the Borromean Islands. They are truly enchanting and incredibly beautiful!

We are on Lake Maggiore, in front of the town of Stresa. From here, Isola Bella and Isola Madre look like two clusters of green reflected in the water – at least they do on windless days, when there are no ripples on the surface of the lake, mirroring all the beauty that surrounds it. 


It took four hundred years until the rocky outcrop transformed into the famous Isola Bella we know today. Strolling through the walkways and over the terraces of its Baroque Garden, it’s hard to believe that this place was once a mere rock...

Today the island is made up entirely of green architecture, with the Borromeo Palace on one side and the Garden covering the rest of the area. 


Ten terraces sloping down towards the water make up this garden, an ensemble designed like a theatrical scene with staircases, alcoves, sculptures, pools and flowerbeds in a multitude of colours and pruned like lacework... Luxuriant scenery combining human ingenuity with the richness of nature in abundance – thanks to the lake’s warm climate. The result is truly astonishing.

It is impossible not to be enchanted by the azaleas or the roses, with dazzling hydrangeas and rhododendrons, oleanders and citrus fruits. Flowers in bloom that depict the seasons but which, naturally, reach their peak in spring...

And not only that, there is also the water lily pond, as well as palm trees, ferns, exotic plants with their giant leaves, and cone-shaped yew trees: the skill these gardeners have cannot be put into words! The box hedges are pruned with infinitesimal precision to create a sort of green embroidery, visible from afar as we approach this place of wonder on the vaporetto water bus.

Finally, we can find the Solenostemon Collection, a tropical plant which boasts thousands of varieties and shades of colour: violet, light green, burgundy, purple, yellow, orange... And just to make it even more enchanting, white peacocks roam freely here too! 

In short, this is a gem of a garden where architecture and plant life are intertwined in a green embrace. WOW! 


That’s enough for today... I like the idea of leaving it here with our eyes and minds full of this baroque wonder. We’ll visit the botanical garden on Isola Madre next Sunday. Ciao!