Isola Bella, one of three Borromean Islands on lake Maggiore, earns its name thanks to the gorgeous blooming flowers that adorn it in the spring and summer and to the priceless architectural treasures scattered around it. Up until 1630, the island, owned by the Borromeo family, was nothing but a rock inhabited by fishermen. At the beginning of the 17th century, however, two members of the family -Giulio Cesare III and Carlo III- started the ambitious project to build the palazzo we can see today, a stunning palace that was finished only in 1948, when Vitaliano IX Borromeo built the Salone Nuovo, the northern façade and the great docks.  The palazzo is a wonderful example of baroque architecture: the beautifully furnished halls feature incredible views of the lake and many renowned artists’ exclusive paintings, precious furniture, marbles, neo-classical stuccos, shining armors and Flemish tapestries made of silk and gold. From March until October 2015, the palace also host a temporary exhibit “The enchanted islands – The Grand Tour and landscape painting in the Borromeo domain: from Gaspar Van Wittel to Luigi Ashton” that reconstructs the story of the area featuring paintings, drawings, engravings and literary pieces from around the late 17th to the 19th centuries. Around the palace, a stunning Italian-style garden spreads from the gates all the way down to the lake, and is dotted with statues, obelisks, imposing stone stairs and balustrades. Both the gardens and palazzo are worth a visit: the entrance ticket to the island cost 15 euros and can be purchased online at 
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