Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Today was possibly the best day of the entire Italian holiday. If the Lake District of Italy is good enough for Princess Caroline of Monaco and George Clooney, unsurprisingly it's good enough for me. We are even staying in the same hotel that Princess Caroline stayed at recently when visiting her younger son's in-laws. They are the noble Borromeo family whose ancestors go back to medieval times when the Borromeos were related to not one but four popes and one of the Borromeo family was a very powerful Archbishop of Milan. In recent times a young Borromea heiress caught the eye of Pierre Casiraghi, Princess Caroline's youngest, and a match was made in noble heaven, gilt with pearls and rubies.
  This morning, our boat launch picked up our group after breakfast on the hotel terrace overlooking beautiful Lake Maggiore, the second biggest and deepest of the pre-Alpine lakes, and gently carried us over sparkling sun-dappled water to visit the three islands once owned by the Borromeo family.  Today the Borromeos still own two of the islands, but have donated each of the houses on the isles  to Italy as museums... while the third island was sold in its entirety.
   We visited first Isola Madre ( the Mother's Isle) and were overwhelmed by the exquisite Italianate beauty of the house and gardens... until we visited the jewel of the three islands formerly owned by the Borromeo family, Isola Bella (see below).
   You approach the island by boat and the outline of the homestead is awe-inspiring with a theatrical garden centrepiece dominating the approach with its sculptures, fountains and manicured gardens. Inside the rooms are exquisite: dusty pink walls, blue-veined marble, frescoes, giant tapestries, sculptures, balconies overlooking vistas of blue and gardens fragrant with a world of flowers. It took my breath away... and now my words. I cannot describe perfection, and this was it.

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