* * *We will end our trip to Italy with a cruise on Lago Maggiore. We will start in a lovely village called Stresa. Everybody on board!
Lago Maggiore is the second biggest lake in Italy. The boat makes quite some waves so I hope that your stomachs are resistant.
The lake is dotted with islands. Some of them are very small and populated with water birds.
The crown jewels of the region are the Borromean Islands. This one is called Isola Bella, which means "the beautiful island". You will have the chance to discover yourself that the name is well deserved.
But before we discover Isola Bella, we will make a stop on the Isola dei Pescatori ("island of fishermen").
It includes a small village of fishermen and does not offer much tourist attractions. Just a few restaurants ...
... and the view! On the left you can see yet another island called Isola Madre ("mother island").
On the right - the main shore with Stresa cuddling to the mountain.
Let's return to the pier and get back on board to visit the most beautiful of the islands.
Isola Bella used to be a rocky island in the middle of the lake, until several generations of the noble family of Borromeo decided to invest heavily in turning it into a unique place.
They have built there a huge palazzo.
Inside you can really see and feel the wealth.
In the middle of the ballroom you can admire a miniature of the island.
And admire the ballroom itself of course.
Through the windows you can see the Isola dei Pescatori.
On warmer days the owners could chill out in an artificial grotto.
Or simply go to the garden.
Not impressed? Just follow me to the main entrance.
Isola Bella does not have any permanent inhabitants. Except for this gentleman.
The impressive structure in the back is called "teatro massimo", though I am not sure if it has ever been used as a theater.
The many niches are filled with some fantastic creatures and topped with, and yes, you have seen it right, a knight riding on a unicorn. Some people just do not understand the term "humble".
From the top, next to the unicorn, you can have a look at the gardens with a small pond.
Behind the teatro you will find the last plot of land on the island.
Let's go down and have a look. Wave your hand to the statues as we pass them by.
Seen from behind, the teatro is magnificent as well.
Time to go back and catch the boat returning to Stresa. Let's take the path by the wall.
The trees that you see are orange trees!
Let's just turn back and take a last look at the lake. If there is a places on Earth that are genuinely close to paradise, Lago Maggiore and Isola Bella are definitely one of them.