Lake Maggiore is in Italy’s Lake District, ever so close to Switzerland. At one point we were ten minutes away from the border and regretting that we hadn’t known enough to ask if a visit was possible. The tour was the Best of Italy and we weren’t thinking Switzerland.
Being close to the alps protects the Lake District from the cold north winds and allows for a very comfortable microclimate.
When we checked into our Stresa hotel on Lake Maggiore, we found an elegant, spacious room with two balconies.
When we looked in the toilet (they don’t call them restrooms in Italy) we found a large space with a sink, toilet, bidet AND the smallest shower we’ve ever seen. Even RV showers are larger than this one. Interesting, but we were off for a boat ride on Lake Maggiore!
Our hotel is behind us as we head for Isola Bella, the island beautiful.
Isola Bella was named after Isabella Borromeo, the wife of Vitaliano Borromeo VI. In 1632 he began transforming the island from fishing huts to a beautiful island. Design and construction on the island continued throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1948, the northern facade and pier were built and that is where we arrived.
We walked through the palace and learned about the family, visitors and contents. Members of the Borromeo family still live on the island in September and October each year so there were areas that were closed to the public.
The ceiling represents the family theme of humility.
This harpsichord is from 1692.
Napoleon and Josephine arrived and slept here on their uninvited overnight visit.
This is one of the first sets of encyclopedia in the world. It is in French.
This engraved wooden saddle is from the 15th century. It is one of twenty that remain in the world.
There were several marionette theaters to entertain guests of the past.
Tapestry artists used animals to represent biblical stories. Each tapestry took ten years to weave.
The grotto, on the lower level, was so unique and interesting! We were told someone in Dubai created a replica.
There were several rooms to explore.
The walls and ceilings were made from shells and stones.
Outside the palace there are world famous baroque gardens.
The gardens are built on a series of terraces.
Among the many statues and fountains, the Teatro Massimo is dominant. Notice the unicorn on top – it is a family symbol.
White peacocks walk the grounds.
Occasionally they offer the perfect picture opportunity…
Alas, this last photograph is not mine but I appreciate the unknown person who posted it for others to enjoy.
Later we gathered again for a boat ride to another nearby island. This is our tour director Fabrizio.
Our tour featured a couple host family dinners. The family we visited on Lake Maggiore had a small restaurant that was closed to other guests for the evening.
We had a wonderful dinner and took the opportunity to get a group picture. We had been together about a week and felt very comfortable. It was a nice evening.
So back to that teeny shower….
When Randy was going to shower he could barely get in. He just started laughing! I went to see what was happening and then we were both laughing!
Obviously these photos are staged but the real thing was hilarious. Don’t drop the soap, Randy!
Next stop: Lake Como!