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The Borromeo Gardens on Isola Bella

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Once a rocky island, home only to fishermen, two small churches, and a few vegetable gardens, Isola Belle (beautiful island) began its transformation in the 17th century. The gardens that spread out from the Borromeo Palazzo represent more than 50% of this island in the middle of Lake Maggiore. An incredible feat of ingineering, it is the 10 cascading terraces that take your breath away. At the top is the Teatro Massimo, the most important monument in the garden of Isola Bella. Statues, obelisks and fountains are perfectly integrated together with the vegetation of the ten scenic terraces, at the top of which rises the statue of the Unicorn, the heraldic symbol of the Borromeo family.

All created over a 40 year period in the Baroque Italian style. As I like to say, “tasteful excess that enchants.”

Where white peacocks roam freely, alighting on architectural features as their mood strikes.

The soil and the climate of the lake offer an ideal habitat to allow species and varieties to grow on the island, creating the memorable image of each terrace bursting with a different color at every bloom period. 

Magnificence personified…

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

9 thoughts on “The Borromeo Gardens on Isola Bella

  1. This post for me was a crown jewel in your Italian trip ! Thank You Bettie !

  2. LOVELY LADY,
    IN COMPARISON (TO) THE ETHRUSSI DE ROTHSCHILD GARDENS AT CAP-FERRAT,
    WHICH I THOUGHT COULD NOT BE OUTDONE FOR VISUAL ‘IMPACT’ … (USING ‘MY FAIR LADY’ / LINES) …
    !!! YOU’VE DONE IT !!!
    MAY YOU ENDLESSLY TRAVEL THE WORLD – AND FIND THE BEAUTY – FOR ALL.

    FONDLY,
    TOM

  3. Statues, columns, and urns and that tree lined few by the lake…lovely! Thanks for sharing.

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