Isole Borromee Isole Borromee
  • Isola Madre
  • The most voluptuous place I’ve seen in the world
    Gustave Flaubert
  • Palazzo Borromeo
  • A heritage that presents
    a unique cultural insight
  • The English-style garden
  • A unique botanical collection



Isola Madre

Already emerged in the glacial era, a document dated 22 September 846 testifies the presence on the island – then named Isola of Saint Vittore – of a few houses, a small church dedicated to the saint and some olive trees for the production of oil for the liturgies.

Isola Madre
Isola Madre, cerchia di Antonio Joli (Modena, 1700 - Napoli, 1777), 1756-1760 (?), oil on canvas

During the medieval age, the Island of San Vittore belonged to various owners (abbots and bishops). A document dated 1501 ratified the passage of ownership from the bishop of Novara to the noble Lancillotto Borromeo.

Through marriage, the Island of San Vittore was transferred in 1520 to the Trivulzio family, and it was only in 1563 that Renato Borromeo regained possession of the property, to which he gave the name Isola Renata.
New impetus was given to the construction of the Palazzo by calling on Pellegrino Pellegrini, known as Il Tibaldi, a key figure in Lombard culture and the trusted architect of Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. The late 16th-century appearance of the Palace that we still see today dates back to this period. The gardens progressed significantly thanks to architect Filippo Cagnola, who in 1710 immortalised staircases, pergolas and vases with great precision.

At the end of the 18th century Isola Madre had taken on the appearance that is substantially conserved today, and it began to be considered a place of peace and repose thanks to its mild climate and luxuriant nature. At the beginning of the 19th century, the garden was transformed into a romantic garden, according to the taste of the time. Almost all the terraces of the island disappeared, giving way to perspective views framed by tall trees. Cultivations also change and rare and exotic plants were introduced, collected by Vitaliano IX, a botany enthusiast.

Subsequently the greenhouses (1826) and the family chapel were built starting from 1858 by architect Defendente Vannini.

In the early 20th century came the idea first of transforming Isola Madre into a hotel, and then of renting it out privately to a very select clientele. But it was Giberto and Bona Borromeo Arese who defined the future of Isola Madre between the 1960s and 1980s: the Palazzo (sumptuously furnished with furniture and works of art coming from Villa Borromeo Arese in Cesano Maderno) and the vast gardens were made available definitively for the enjoyment of the public since 1978.

What to see

Palazzo Borromeo

What to see

Palazzo Borromeo

In the Palazzo on Isola Madre the choice has been made to give precedence to the private dimension of the family

The style is elegantly sober: a succession of loggias and rooms, furnished with tapestries, furniture items and paintings coming from various historic dwellings owned by the Borromeo dynasty in Lombardy.

Palazzo Borromeo Interno
Palazzo Borromeo, internal

Among the most important rooms: the Salone di Ricevimento [Reception Room], the Sala delle Stagioni [Seasons Room], the Salotto Veneziano [Venetian Lounge], the Library, the Sala delle Battaglie [Battles Room] and the Sala dei Papi [Popes’ Room].

Porcelains and liveries, family paintings and canopy beds decorated with sumptuous brocade compose a fascinating fresco of courtly life. Everywhere, from the loggias or from the large windows, it is possible to enjoy charming views of the lake and the botanical park.

Palazzo Borromeo Isola Bella Interno
Cipresso del Cashmir
Palazzo Borromeo Isola Bella Interno

The marionette theatre

Stage sets, designs, marionettes, entire scripts, musical scores, payment receipts: a genuine home puppet theatre where the Borromeo family entertained their guests. From the mid-17th century onwards the performances involved members of the family, friends and the servants themselves. The collection exhibited is among the most extensive and best conserved in the world. The creator of the sets and backdrops was Alessandro Sanquirico, scenographer of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, who worked for the Borromeos in around 1830. Together with the marionettes, also on display are various mechanical devices that were used to create fog, fire and stage noises: the special effects of over two centuries ago.

The Venetian Lounge

When you enter the Venetian Lounge, positioned at the sunniest point of the building, it will seem like being under a pergola supported by columns interwoven with plants and flowers.
Mirrors, Murano chandeliers and furnishings recall the taste of the Serenissima.
A perfect, sophisticated trompe l’œil enchants visitors.

What to see

The English-style garden

What to see

The English-style garden

With its eight hectares of expanse, it is the largest of the Isole Borromee.

The botanical heritage and the strong exotic impression have made it what Gustave Flaubert called “the most voluptuous place I’ve seen in the world”.
The current English-style botanical park was created in the early 19th century and since then it has been the abode for plants and flowers brought back from trips to far-off lands and acclimatised thanks to the mild and favourable temperatures.

Giardino Isola Mdre
Palazzo Borromeo, interno

Today the garden on Isola Madre is unique for its rare plant species from every part of the world.
Continuous, exuberant flowering, the result of the endeavours of expert gardeners, continually renovating every corner of the park: from the magnolia groves to those of bamboo, from the perfumed pergolas of wisteria to the espaliers of citrus fruit, from the parterres of ancient camellias and rhododendrons to the overflowing pools of waterlilies and lotus flowers. Eucalyptuses, palms and banana trees coexist with the collection of conifers and maples. At the height of summer ibiscus, morning glories and bougainvilleas bring out the emotion of a trip through time.

The mild climate has allowed the establishing of amazing flora hard to find in other locations: rare plants coming from the most diverse latitudes and spectacular blooms make it a real earthly paradise. The terrace of proteas is unique; these are prehistoric flowers that are the emblem of South Africa, found here in their ideal environment.

Completing a setting of such harmonious beauty are multi-coloured birds roaming freely in the park. Silver and golden pheasants and white peacocks walk in tranquillity on the lawns and among the hedges.

Isola-Madre Terrazza-Protea
The terrace of proteas, Isola Madre
Palazzo Borromeo Isola Bella Interno

The history of the cypress from Cashmir

Providing shade for the Palazzo is the imposing cypress from Cashmir, which arrived here in 1862 from the Himalayas in a bag of fresh seeds and which over the years has become a symbol of Isola Madre.
It is the largest, oldest specimen of its kind that in Europe; in its land of origin, Tibet, it is in danger of extinction.The whirlwind that hit the north of Isola Madre in June 2006 also left its mark on this huge tree.
Saving it has been an operation involving complex engineering and botanical skills. Even if it will never return to the shape that made it «the most beautiful tree in the world», the great Cypress of Isola Madre remains to provide evidence of the devotion of the Borromeo family to the conservation of the island’s natural heritage.

Since 2002 the gardens of Isola Madre, along with those of Isola Bella, have been part of the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society.

Terre Borromeo-isola-madre-cashmir
The cypress from Kashmir

Useful info

Useful info

Season 2021

The opening of the Terre Borromeo museum sites will be defined on the basis of the updates relating to the COVID emergency.

We therefore recommend that you consult the homepage or contact the call centre + 39 0323.933478 to receive up-to-date information.


Adults Single Youngs Single Adults Group Youngs Group Baby
Isola Madre (Palace and gardens) € 15 € 8.5 € 12 € 6 -
Isola Madre + Isola Bella € 25 € 13 € 22 € 11 -
Isola Madre + Parco Pallavicino € 19 € 10,5 € 16 € 10 -
Isola Madre + Isola Bella +Rocca di Angera € 30 € 15 € 23 € 12 -
Isola Madre + Isola Bella + Parco Pallavicino € 30 € 15 € 24 € 12 -
Download the pdf table with all prices
Adults Single
Youngs Single
Adults Group
Youngs Group
Isola Madre (Palace and gardens)
€ 15
€ 8.5
€ 12
€ 6
Isola Madre + Isola Bella
€ 25
€ 13
€ 22
€ 11
Isola Madre + Parco Pallavicino
€ 19
€ 10,5
€ 16
€ 10
Isola Madre + Isola Bella +Rocca di Angera
€ 30
€ 15
€ 23
€ 12
Isola Madre + Isola Bella + Parco Pallavicino
€ 30
€ 15
€ 24
€ 12

How to get there

By car
From the Autostrada dei Laghi motorway in the direction of Gravellona Toce, Carpugnino exit, following the signs for Stresa.
It is possible to park in Piazza Marconi in Stresa and from here you can take one of the boats to reach the Isole Borromee.
Alternatively, you can leave your car in the square in Carciano opposite the dock.

By train
Ferrovie dello Stato railway, Milan-Sempione line, Stresa stop. The station is around 850 m from Piazza Marconi.
With Ferrovie Nord railway, Milan-Laveno line, Laveno stop.

By bus
VB Arona Milan line: departure from Milan Lampugnano, stop B5.
Or Verbania–Stresa–Malpensa, which requires advance booking.
For info:

By plane
Distance from the principal airports: Turin Caselle 140 km – Milan Malpensa 50 km – Milan Linate 110 km – Bergamo Orio Al Serio 130 km.

By ferry
The boats depart from the main locations on the lake.
For further information: Navigazione Lago Maggiore – scheduled passenger service. Also available is a non-scheduled passenger service by motorboat.

Vademecum Covid

Vademecum Covid

• Beginning Friday 6 August 2021 access to the Terre Borromeo museum it is necessary to present a Green COVID-19 Certification (Green Pass or equivalent certificate) or a negative test. Minors up to 12 years of age and individuals with specific medical certification are excluded from the obligation.

• You are advised to arrive at the locations with a ticket already purchased online via the platform booking.isoleborromee

• In compliance with the safety rules, access to the sites may be limited.

• It is not possible to enter the sites if you have a high temperature (over 37.5°) or other symptoms of influenza and where hazardous conditions exist, such as coming from risk areas or in close contact with persons testing positively for the virus in the last 14 days or coming from abroad in the last 14 days.

• Access is only permitted if you are wearing a mask.

• You are advised to wash your hands frequently; hand sanitising gel dispensers are located at various points inside the sites.

• Always keep a distance of more than one meter from the other visitors and from the sites personnel.

• Luggage storage is not available.

• Inside the Parco Pallavicino, touching the cages, the enclosures and/or the facilities present inside the Park is prohibited. You are also advised not to touch the animals.

We thank you for respecting all the indications on the signs and given by the supervisory personnel.

The offer of Terre Borromeo

Tour operator & agencies

All useful information for operators: location rental, exclusive experiences, download useful materials and documents.

Events & Weddings

Its multi-faceted spirit and aristocrat allure make this fortress the perfect setting for a special day.

Educational offer

The educational proposal for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools extended to all locations in the Terre Borromeo.

Terre Borromeo

A story of love, protection and respect that has lasted for six centuries.

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  • Terre Borromeo is easily accessible! They are only an hour and a half from Milan and easily reachable from the main airports. Find out how to reach them by car, train and how to book the ferry that will take you to the islands.
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Tra dame e giovani uomini, la Galleria Berthier ospita anche ritratti di personaggi illustri.
Le rughe del volto e lo sguardo fiero, quasi di sfida, ci danno informazioni sul suo carattere.
Il compasso che tiene in mano invece, ci fornisce un indizio sulla sua professione: è l’architetto Domenico Fontana, che operò a Roma e Napoli in tardo Rinascimento per Papa Sisto V.
La rappresentazione è sobria e icastica, con un approccio schietto, che non lascia dubbi sulla sua origine.
Guardate nelle stories per scoprire di più sulla storia di questo dipinto.
Pittore attivo in Italia centrale
Ritratto dell’architetto Domenico Fontana
Circa 1590-1600
Galleria Berthier, Palazzo Borromeo
Isola Bella
Between ladies and young men, the Galleria Berthier also houses portraits of famous people.
The wrinkles of the face and the proud, almost defiant gaze give us information about his character.
The compass he holds in his hand, meanwhile, gives us a clue about his profession. It is the architect Domenico Fontana, who worked in Rome and Naples in the late Renaissance for Pope Sixtus V.
The representation is sober and icastic, with a straightforward approach, which leaves no doubt about its origin.
Take a look in our stories to find out more about the history of this painting.
Painter active in central Italy
Portrait of the architect Domenico Fontana
About 1590-1600
Galleria Berthier, Palazzo Borromeo
Isola Bella

#terreborromeo #lakemaggiore #lagomaggiore #borromeoexperience #isolabella #artlovers #berthier130 #palazzoborromeo
Fa bene al cuore, abbassa la pressione, rende più felici e migliora le capacità relazionali. E c’è di più: è anche un ottimo anti-age.
Il nome di questa magia è tanto semplice quanto facile da reperire: si chiama gentilezza.
Oggi è la sua giornata!
E come diceva Seneca: «Ovunque ci sia un essere umano, vi è la possibilità per una gentilezza».
Noi la celebriamo con il giallo brillante del gelsomino, il fiore che simboleggia questo atto di sensibilità.
Nelle Stories vi spieghiamo come un singolo atto di gentilezza possa cambiare le vostre giornate.
Buona Giornata Mondiale della Gentilezza!
It's good for the heart, lowers blood pressure, makes you happier and improves interpersonal skills. And there's more: it is also an excellent anti-aging agent.
The name of this spell is as simple as it is accessible: it's called kindness.
Today is its day!
And as Seneca said: "Wherever there is a human being, there is the possibility for kindness."
We celebrate it with the bright yellow of jasmine, the flower that symbolizes this act of sensitivity.
In our stories we explain how a single act of kindness can change your day.
Happy World Kindness Day!

#terreborromeo #lakemaggiore #lagomaggiore #gentilezza #worldkindnessday #kindness #borromeoexperience
Anche se dovrebbero essere celebrati tutto l’anno, il 2 ottobre è la festa dei nonni! 
Una giornata istituita per sottolineare l'importanza del loro ruolo nelle famiglie e nella società in generale.
Oggi Terre Borromeo festeggia tutti i nonni e ricorda i propri antenati che per più di 400 anni hanno conservato la bellezza di questi luoghi.
Voi per che cosa siete grati ai vostri nonni? Scrivetecelo nei commenti. 
Although they should be celebrated all year round, October 2nd is Grandparents' Day!
A day set up to emphasize the importance of their role in families and in society in general.
Today Terre Borromeo celebrates all grandparents and remembers their ancestors who have preserved the beauty of these places for more than 400 years.
What are you grateful to your grandparents for? Let us know in the comments.

#terreborromeo  #borromeoexperience #lakemaggiore #lagomaggiore #festadeinonni #grandparentsday #archivioborromeo
C’è un fiore che accoglie l’arrivo della stagione autunnale con lo scintillio di una stella.
Il suo nome deriva dal greco antico “aster”. Venne chiamato così perché ricorda proprio una stella: in alcuni momenti assume una colorazione blu, altri bianca o addirittura rosa. Al centro porta il colore dell’oro e all’esterno può essere più scura.
Giovane aster, porta la tua ventata di colore “settembrina” sul lago Maggiore!
There is a flower that welcomes the arrival of the autumn season with the sparkle of a star.
Its name derives from the ancient Greek "aster". It was called this because it resembles a star. In some moments it takes on a blue color, others white or even pink. In the center it bears the color of gold and on the outside it can be darker.
Young aster, bring your "September" breath of color to Lake Maggiore!

#terreborromeo #lakemaggiore #lagomaggiore #borromeoexperience #aster