Saturday, May 17, 2014

Stresa Travel Notes: Bellissima Isola Bella!

Ok, so it has been a long time (too long!) since the blog was updated, so I thought what better way to start the season than with a visit to Isola Bella.

I have already posted about Isola Madre and Isola Pescatori so I thought it was about time that Stresa's most visited attraction got a mention too.

Isola Bella is the nearest island to Stresa and is therefore the first stop on the ferry away from the mainland, just a 10 minute journey. The island is dominated by the Borromean palace and its terraced gardens, but there is also a church, some shops, bars and restaurants.

But lets get back to the main attraction: once you have your ticket you will enter the palace first and then the gardens. Unfortunately no photos are allowed in the palace so I will give you a brief outline. Climbing up the wide stone staircase you will reach the first floor and the start of your visit. In front of you is the entrance to the picture gallery (extra charge €3) and then to the right, the main part of the palace. Take a look at the model of the palace and gardens in the Salone Nuovo (Salone delle Feste) and you will see how the original plans for the palace were quite different. Other highlights are the Sala di Napoleone and the Sala della Musica where Mussolini, MacDonald and Laval met for the Stresa Conference in 1935 and look out for the exquisite mosaic table which is my favourite piece of furniture in the whole palace.

After you go downstairs, visit the cool stone and shell studded grottoes, you will come upstairs again and through the tapestry room into the gardens. Here I thought I would let the photos do the talking:

Practical Information
If you are just planning to visit Isola Bella the return ferry costs €6.80 return (€5.60 for over 65's Monday to Friday). If you are planning to combine it with other visits on the same day have a look at our guide to the ferries and you can see the different ticket options.

Entrance costs €13.00 per person and if you combine it with a visit to Isola Madre on the same day you can get a joint ticket for both islands for €18.50. RHS members enter for free.

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