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Borromean Islands: one of the ten most beautiful places in the world according to the NYT

On Isola Bella you will have the chance to admire paintings by Boltraffio, Giampietrino or Procaccini in the Berthier Gallery of Palazzo Borromeo: on your own, with few selected friends and after hours, when the historic dwelling and its park are officially closed, they just open for exclusive visits. Then you go outside in the baroque garden for an aperitif surrounded by flower scents and the last blades of light before evening. Emotions that you can experience in a privileged way, also in Isola Madre Palace, among tapestries, halls and one of the most spectacular known puppet collections. These are just two of the many new features of Borromeo Experience: a special tour to enjoy and explore these islands on Lake Maggiore. "One of the ten most beautiful places in the world" according to the New York Times.

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These are not just simple weekend trips among art, gardens and romantic landscapes, but real events to protect this territory, linked to the contemporary lifestyle carried out over the last four years by Prince Vitaliano Borromeo. After all, his dynasty is managing this stunnig corner in Italy since 1400. On Isola Bella, after a careful restoration, three fishermen's houses have become the Borromeo's Dream Home apartments, in a simply chic style, to be rented. You could enjoy lunch on the bistro terrace Il Fornello Bottega with cuisine, of course only Italian menu. Evertyhing you buy (food, bottarga included) walking along Vicolo dei Fornelli, the shopping street, is made in Italy. This narrow road boasts old fishermen's houses converted into shops, that offer you great Italian and local brands, design by Alessi, Herno coats, Acqua di Stresa, Italia Independent sunglasses, Fope jewels.

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Shopping to wake up from the enchantment of the island, its garden and the treasures of Palazzo Borromeo, which can be visited by appointment when it is closed to tourists; as for example, the sixteenth-century dwelling of Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromean Islands, famous for its English garden, member of the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society. Here, you can find exotic and rare plants, such as the Kashmir cypress, hibiscus, ancient wisteria, azaleas and camellias. Parco Pallavicino is also a must of the Borromeo Experience, reborn since it was managed by Prince Borromeo: 18 hectares of secular trees, chestnuts, red beeches, ginkgo biloba, oaks, maples, cedars of Lebanon. If spring is the triumph of flowers, then autumn is magical thank to the monumental tree foliage. This is the perfect destination to go with your family to visit the Farm hosting many different animals such as: pink flamingos, fallow deers and storks.

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Also the iconic mountain of the Lake, Mottarone 1.491m, is part of this project. Mottarone is well known among sport lovers, those who love horseback riding, walking, bike riding (a bicycle rental service is available). The panorama from the top is one of the most breath-taking in Italy because it stretches over seven lakes, the Maritime Alps, up to Monviso, and on the 500 hectares of wood that surrounded the station of the rack railway closed in 1970. Now the building has become Bar Stazione offering local food and boasting the A3 energy class for environmental and energy sustainability. The wood will soon host the Mottarone Adventure Park, with four routes among bridges, lianas and walkways. These are just the first stages of a more ambitious project that meets the new value of free time: 360 ° ecology, from food to open air life. In the future seven pastures will be renovated as hotels, a biological lake will be created in the peat bog area, a market area for the sale of local products and a riding school are also planned.

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Emotions in nature, in history, in art. Even the contemporary art thanks to the restoration (2015-2017) of the Ala Scaligera in Rocca di Angera. "All this to promote the passion for beauty and cultural innovation that marked my predecessors on Isola Bella and Isola Madre", explained the prince at the inauguration. "A commitment for future generations". And so between the walls of the thirteenth century, frescoes of coats of arms and heraldic motifs of the Visconti, modernity and the avant-garde blends with the past.

This year's event is, until September 29th, with the exhibition Quaestio de aqua et terra at the Rocca di Angera (Another) Question of the Water and the Land, with performance videos by Marina Abramovic, references to the northern mythology of Anselm Kiefer and bronzes by Wael Shawky. The protagonists are the Cannero Castles, also setting location of the film La Stanza del Vescovo by Dino Risi, and the Mottarone pastures. All in the name of beauty and cultural innovation.

Source: article from the August 2019 issue of Forbes Italia.

By Mariella Grossi

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