31 January 2023
Heritage conservation makes culture shine
On Isola Bella, work is continuing in the museum rooms of Palazzo Borromeo as part of the cyclical restoration of the cultural heritage, in anticipation of spring and the reopening of the Terre Borromeo destinations on Lake Maggiore, scheduled for 16 March.
These works, which are carried out every year when the cultural sites are closed to the public, ensure that the artistic treasures and architectural elements are preserved from the effects of time and continue to be displayed in all their splendour to a public from all over the world. The Borromeo family’s close focus on these tasks takes the form of constant monitoring of the state of the works and in the scheduled cleaning and repairs.
In the Sala delle Medaglie (Medals Room), for example, precious and antique furnishings and decorations are currently being meticulously cleaned. These include the French opaline glass dessert service in the centre of the room and the carved and gold and blue-painted wooden decorations on the walls. The original brightness of the gold leaf and turquoise colour is thus restored by the cleaning of the surfaces and decorations.
In the Sala del Trono (Throne Room), the floor is being worked on, with the family coat of arms from 1857-58 reproduced in mosaic in the centre. This room, considered a true museum of Baroque art, was used for audiences. The monumental eighteenth-century carved and gilded wooden throne, surmounted by an embroidered silk canopy, gives the room its name. A curiosity? Maria d’Adda Borromeo bought it on the art market in Venice.
Descending into the grottoes, designed at the level of the lake as a place of retreat in which to find some cool air, we find another important work in progress. We are in the fifth of the six rooms, the largest, supported by four pillars covered with mosaics and black marble slabs. The walls and roof are richly decorated with sea gods, turtles, shells and polychrome incrustations of mirrors in different types of marble, created by a team of plasterers in 1690.
The maintenance of such a fragile and delicate space involves the removal of crumbling surface deposits and soluble stains through careful washing. Pebbles are also reapplied and the surface is given a protective treatment. Thanks to this work, the colours are restored to their original splendour and the setting is protected from the wear and tear caused by the numerous tourists and the climatic conditions of the area.