(with explanations inside the mansion)
Bella lies just off Stresa.
In addition to a part of the former fishermens village you can find the famous Mansion Borromeo, meant for the distinguished
guests and built beginning from the 17th century by the noble house of
Borromeo, who were feudatories of Lake Maggiore.
Inside it it is possible to visit 25 richly decorated rooms: everywhere are stuccoes,
statues, pictures, tapestries and Murano chandeliers. The rooms named "Grottoes" are very effective: they are
set with pebbles.
From the mansion you can reach the terraced garden, where among statues and azaleas live
white peacocks. From the upper terrace you can have a wonderful view to the Gulf Borromeo
island lies to the north of Island Bella and was inhabited by
In the small village you can
walk along old houses with wooden balconies and granite portals. Every lane leads to the
lake and tiny boats and fishing nets recall the inhabitants activity.
It is a small but charming island.
Here you can visit the parish church with portal and columns of pink granite and the
silver bust of St. Charles Borromeo. There is also a small churchyard. Beautiful view to
Islands Bella and Madre, Baveno and Mount Mottarone.
Madre is situated in the middle of the Gulf Borromeo and is
the biggest island of Lake Maggiore. The whole island is private. The importance of this
island comes from the botanical Garden where from the beginning of the 19th century on have
been cultivated exotic species coming from all over the world. The collection of 150
species of Camellia is very
important. Peacocks and pheasants wander among Azalea and Rhododendron
bushes, bald cypresses and tea-plants.
The botanical Garden of Villa
Since 1978 it is possible to visit also the house, which was built beginning from the end
of the 16th century and is considered the first of the villas built on Lake
Maggiore. In comparison with the mansion on Island Bella it looks simple, but it was
furnished with old pieces of furniture in order to re-create the bygone days atmosphere.
Inside are important collections of Lombard paintings of the 17th century, marionette theatres, dolls and uniforms of
the servants of Borromeo Family.
Julius Island on Lake Orta
garden has a surface of 20 hectares and has a huge importance for botany thanks to the 20,000 species and varieties that are
Taking advantage of the ornamental potential of each species the conceiver of the garden,
the Scottish Captain Neil McEacharn, transformed it into a natural looking park.
Walking along the avenues and admiring the most curious and important species you will
make the Captains acquaintance. He devoted all his life to go in for the arts and
botany and creating this wonderful garden. He donated it to the Italian State at his death
so that all his work would not be lost.
The blooming of Azaleas and Rhododendron in spring is really spectacular;
in summer you can admire the giant water-lilies of the Amazonian river, while in autumn you can walk through the dahlia maze and enjoy the varied colours of
Lake Orta can be reached in about half an
hour from Stresa and is much smaller than Lake Maggiore. It is a men-size lake and also
for this reason it is very appreciated. The lake is surrounded by mountains and a
luxuriant vegetation. Especially in the southern part there are several villas, the parks
of which have secular trees.
Almost in the middle of the lake lies the only island, the history of which dates back to the 4th century.
Only five minutes far from Orta, it is worth visiting because of its old basilica, rebuilt in the 11th
century. Inside you can admire Renaissance and Baroque frescos as well as a serpentine pulpit (built in 1100). In the
crypt are kept the mortal remains of Saint Julius, the evangeliser of this region, who
died on the island in 400.
Walking along the only lane of the island you go around the Benedictine cloister and pass
behind the villas, the fronts of which you can admire from the lake.
can reach this small village
walking along a comfortable road. The lack of cars together with old houses with granite portals and wrought
iron gates, the small lanes, the inside yards and the small shops will take you back to
You should not miss: Via Motta, flanked by old houses and elegant
mansions; the parish church, that still keeps the old
serpentine portal; the old Town Hall decorated with several coats of arms, among which also the one of Orta;
the garden of Villa Bossi, facing the lake and the market-place, also facing the lake and the island, surrounded by old houses with
Holy Mountain of Orta
It is situated on the top of the hill
which overhangs the village and from which you have a wonderful view to Lake Orta and St. Julius
It was built beginning from 1590 with devoutness aims and is composed of 21 chapels, inside which frescos and statues
recall episodes of St. Francis
of Assisis life. Visiting all the chapels or the most significant ones you can get
to know the tradition of Holy Mountains, that developed mainly in Piedmont. It is a
pleasant walk in a park with views to the lake.