Borromean Islands Navigation

Borromean Islands

The archipelago of the Borromean Islands is located in the western arm of Lake Maggiore called the Borromean Gulf. It overlooks the town of Stresa, known as the pearl of Lake Maggiore, inhabited over the centuries by important people in politics and entertainment, whose origins date back to before the year one thousand.  

The three main islands are:

The Islet of Marghera, also known as the islet of lovers "due to its small size" is located at a short distance between Isola Bella and Isola Pescatori.

The Islet of San Giovanni is an island on the archipelago of the Borromean islands. It is located in the Borromean Gulf, at a short distance from the shore in front of Pallanza.

Dense vegetation protects it from curious and prying eyes. There is also a small chapel, where the wedding between Pierre Casiraghi, 27, third child of Caroline of Monaco and Stefano Casiraghi and Beatrice Borromeo, 29, offspring of two noble families, was celebrated: the mother is Countess Paola Marzotto.  The party then continued at the Rocca of Angera, another property of the Borromean family on Lake Maggiore, where VIPs from all over the world participated. 

The island is known for having been the residence of the conductor Arturo Toscanini between 1927 and 1952. 

The palace and island are private property and cannot be visited.

Historical background

Lady Diana

On 21st. April 1985 Lady Diana and Prince Charles arrived on Isola Bella to visit the palace, the Borromean garden and they were guests of Prince Giberto Borromeo.

Wedding Lavinia Borromeo

Cappella San Vittore Isola Madre

John Elkann said yes to Lavinia Borromeo in the family chapel on Isola Madre.
In the small church, about sixty people, very close relatives and friends of the couple.
The witnesses of the bride (the siblings of Lavinia: Beatrice and Carlo, Paola Marzotto's children, and uncle Giberto) and of the groom (the siblings Ginevra and Lapo and cousin Alessandro Nasi). Jaki was in a grey morning suit by Anderson and Shepard; tailoring of Prince Philip of England, but also of Tom Cruise and Sean Connery.
The celebrations continued on Isola Bella in the Borromean Palace with 700 guests. At the reception among the guests there was everyone of Italy that counts, the Prima Minister of that time Silvio Berlusconi arrived on Lake Maggiore by helicopter, representatives of the economy and finance elite.


On Isola dei Pescatori, Assumption, the festival that takes place in August, is evocative and well attended. On this occasion the Madonna of Assumption is carried in procession around the island. The tour is done on illuminated boats. The small and characteristic alleys of the island are brightly lit and restaurants throng with tourist to dine on typical products.

The "People of Lake and River" event takes place in October in the splendid scenery of Isola Pescatori.
On this occasion the small village of the island comes back to life to celebrate an idea, a vision also at the basis of the creation of the Association, which saw the light in June 2018: to protect and enhance the extraordinary heritage preserved by fresh waters. Via the October event, but of course not only: the association's manifest is in fact a real call to a collective commitment, 365 days a year, in order to contribute to a cultural change.

Gente di Lago e di Fiume 2018 - Risotto
Gente di Lago e di Fiume 2018 - Risotto 2
Gente di Lago e di Fiume 2018 - Servizio
Gente di Lago e di Fiume 2018 - Piatto

Some typical dishes that you can taste on the Borromean islands.

Soused fish

Pesce in Carpione

1- 1,5 kg coregone, alborelle i altri pesci di lago
olio per friggere (abbondante)
4 cucchiai d’olio
un rametto di timo
1 gambo di sedano
2 bicchieri di aceto
2 bicchieri di vino bianco
4 cipolline
2 foglie di lauro
4 foglie di salvia
1 rametto di prezzemolo

Risotto with perch

Risotto al Pesce Persico

800 g Filetto di pesce persico
500 g Riso
1 L Brodo vegetale
1 pz Cipolla
100 grammi di Burro
Farina per infarinare
Vino bianco secco

Lemon cake

Torta al Limone

300 g di farina
250 g di zucchero
4 uova
150 ml di olio di semi
100 ml di acqua a temperatura ambiente
50 ml di succo di limone
1 bustina di lievito per dolci
1 pizzico di sale
scorza di 1 limone
zucchero a velo per decorare

Isola Bella e Prua Barca

Isole Bella

Due to a microclimate aided by the lake that mitigates the winter period, Isola Bella is a place of incredible blooming of various floral species. Inside the island there is an Italian Baroque garden on several floors, embellished with plants that have been skilfully cultivated for hundred of years and bordered by statues, terraces overhanging the lake, obelisks, stairways with breathtaking views and an amphitheatre populated by white peacocks. In the northernmost part of the island it is possible to visit, during a part of the year, the Palace, a place steeped in history that since the Middle Ages till today marks the strength of a family in a series of rooms, elegantly furnished with sculptures, armour, paintings, high quality furniture and much more.

Isola dei Pescatori

Isola dei Pescatori

Isola dei Pescatori is known as Superior Island, located slightly further north and reachable from Isola Bella in less than five minutes. It represents the history of Lake Maggiore and its fishermen, who live there and live off the daily fish catch. Inside the island, which can only be covered on foot, it is possible to admire the paths that lead tourists to visit the ubiquitous markets and shops scattered everywhere. Very popular are the restaurants, also present on the other islands, where we find typical fish-based dishes, such as perch or whitefish and the typical dessert of Stresa, the daisies.  

Isola Madre

Isola Madre

Isola Madre, as Count Vitaliano Borromeo, owner of the island said “it is a precious jewel set in the waters of Lake Maggiore". It represents one of the greatest expressions of imagination in the agronomic field in the world. Due to the study that has lasted for hundreds of years (the first information dates back to the early 1500s), this island hosts an English botanical garden, where you can admire hundreds of varieties of plants from all over the globe. The luxuriant island is home to many rare essences that blossom at any time of the year. The attentive eye of the visitor cannot fail to be distracted by the population of peacocks and pheasants which are completely free to be photographed.

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