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The Isola Madre, positioned at the center of the Borromeo Gulf, was once called Isola di San Vittore and later Isola Maggiore. It is the largest of the Borromean islands; It is 330 meters long and 220 meters wide. It attracts tourists eager to admire the splendid panorama of the lake, the historic villa characterized by sumptuous rooms but, above all, the carefully well-finished gardens.
Discovering the Gardens of the Isola Madre
Walking you can admire the beautiful exteriors designed at the end of the 18th century on the trail of an ancient orchard (which later became the olive grove and citrus grove) that remained almost unchanged despite the passage of time and you can also see plant specimens from around the world, some of which are very rare (an example is the Kashmir Cypress that has now reached the 200 years of life). This garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Italy. Here the star anise, cypress trees, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias, maples, orange trees, bananas, palm trees and many other varieties make a fine show and make the place unique and spectacular. The garden is also home to the well-known “scala dei morti”, covered by a splendid collection of wisteria.
Although the view is amazing throughout the year, it is right in the spring season that the island gives the best, thanks to the blossoming of flowers and plants that come back to life after the winter torpor; it is therefore in summer that, who lands on the Isola Madre remembers with greater affection and wonder the scenarios they could enjoy.
Surprisingly, you can also see a variety of animal species which have found here a place of shelter as some colourful plumage parrots, peacocks, pheasants, ducks and bantams, just to name a few.
From the beginning the palace was built to be the summer residence of counts Borromeo. Inside, in addition to the beautiful furnishings from the historic houses of the family, there are tapestries, paintings and works of art of great value, dating back mostly to the 17th century; the collection of puppets is original and it is made even more interesting by the sets and backdrops of the little theatres dating back to 800. The Hall of Seasons or the one of the dolls, with a collection of 19th century dolls can’t be missed either.
Flaubert was right by saying: “Isola Madre is the most voluptuous place I’ve ever seen in the world“.