Discovering Maggiore Lake: the wonderful Borromean Islands (Italy)

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When I was a child, one of the typical summer day trips was to Maggiore Lake, starting from Stresa and reaching the three Borromean Islands by boat.

Maggiore Lake is the second largest Italian lake, after Garda Lake, and its shores are situated in Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland.

Every year, this pre-alpine basin attracts many tourists from Italy and from abroad thanks to its beautiful landscapes, its charming coastal towns and the archipelago of the Borromean Islands (Beautiful Island, Mother Island and Fishermen Island).

The best starting point to discover this amazing area is Stresa, a little town situated on the Piedmontese shore, not far from the city of Novara, which is often referred to as “the pearl of the lake” for its favorable geographic position and its charming historic centre. From here, you can use the public ferry boat service to quickly reach the three islands.

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The Borromean Islands take their name from the noble family who has been living here since XIVth century and who still owns Beautiful Island and Mother Island!

Beautiful Island (Isola Bella)

This is the most famous and the most spectacular one. It’s also the nearest to the shore and its name stems from Isabella (nickname “Bella”), who was the wife of Carlo III Borromeo, the noble man who purchased it in the XVIIth century. It’s entirely dominated by the glamorous baroque Borromeo palace, which can be visited with a guided tour. Outside the palace you can also visit the huge terraced gardens full of exotic plants, flowers, statues, water effects and artificial caves. One of the most beautiful elements of the huge garden is the statue of a unicorn, which was the emblem of the Borromeo family. In the garden you can also see many white peacocks that add their unique charm to the place, making the visitor feel like being in a fairy tale. The noble family used to host friends and relatives here for the holidays, but also important people were invited to enjoy the place: for example you can still see the room were Napoleon and his wife Giuseppina stayed in 1797.

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Mother Island (Isola Madre)

This is the biggest one and it also has a beautiful palace, now hosting the Puppet Museum, and a big botanic garden, where you can admire plants from all over the world. Here you can also see white peacocks, parrots and pheasants wandering around in the green.

photo credit: Isola Madre via photopin (license)

Fishermen Island (Isola dei Pescatori or Isola Superiore)

On this island there is a little village built around San Vittore church, dating back to the XVIth century. It was once inhabited by the fishermen of the lake and it’s till populated by around 60 people, who are mainly employed in the tourist sector. It’s here, in effect, that you can find restaurants, local handicrafts and souvenir shops, while the other two islands are now uninhabited.

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For more information about the tourist attractions of this wonderful archipelago, visit


Time travelling before Florence Cathedral (Italy)

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I’m not a big fan of architecture and monuments in general and I’m not used to getting emotional about this kind of art, because I prefer to admire nature and landscapes instead, but I made an exception once and it was great since it was unexpected. It was 6 years ago and I had just arrived in Florence. After dinner, I went for a walk in the historic centre of the city and, coming out of one of those narrow streets, I came across an impressive building shining with white and dark green decorations: that was the famous Florence Cathedral!

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Movida made in Turin: the Quadrilatero Romano (Turin- Italy)

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Via S. Agostino

Imagine a warm early summer evening, when you feel like having fun outside, but you are in a big and austere city in the North of Italy…don’t despair, you have 2 possibilities to make your evening: just go to San Salvario or to the Quadrilatero Romano, which are the best “movida districts” in Turin!

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A small Versailles in Piedmont. The Palace of Venaria (Italy)

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Over the last 20 years, Turin and its surroundings have undergone major redevelopment and upgrading of touristic facilities, which made the area one of the most attractive destinations for foreign visitors in the North of Italy.

In my opinion, one of the most successful examples of local heritage enhancement is the Palace of Venaria with its beautiful gardens. The Palace was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997 and it rivals the famous royal palaces of Caserta and Versailles in elegance and glamour.

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Between river and hills. Valentino Garden – Turin (Italy)

Savoia Castle

I’ve been living in Turin for 4 years now and I’m very proud of my chosen city, which I consider one of the most beautiful and elegant in Italy. One of the things I love the most is the fact that it’s crossed by two rivers and one of the them, the famous Po, flows just in the middle of the city, but despite this, its sides have mostly been kept natural and grassy on both sides. To escape noise and traffic you just need to go to a place where you’ll forget where you are and feel like a noblewoman or a nobleman strolling in a beautiful park admiring the trees, the slow river and the hills just on the other side…in short…go to Valentino Garden!

It is the most famous and loved public park in Turin and it’s about 421.000 square meters wide…not so much in comparison to foreign parks (don’t expect anything like Central park!), but it’s full of trees and flowers and it’s populated by different species of migratory birds, ducks and squirrels. Here you can do jogging, biking and rowing or you can simply walk along tree-lined avenues admiring the riverside. Valentino Garden has also a stop for the Po cruises performed by two blue boats called Valentino and Valentina.

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