L'Isola Madre, Italy
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll already know that I visited L'Isola Madre this past weekend for a quick weekend getaway.
L'Isola Madre is an island that is located in Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, just a short hour and a half drive outside the city of Milan. With the train, you can go directly from Milan (centrale stazione) to Stresa using the regional train, which is about an hour train ride and will cost you more or less 9€ each way. From Stresa station, it's only a short walk to where you can take an inexpensive 10-minute boat ride over to Isola Madre.
Since 1502 this island (Mother Island) has been owned by the Borromeo Family but, in 1978 the island and grounds were opened to the public. At only 220 meters wide and 330 meters long, this island welcomes visitors to tour and roam the exquisite botanical gardens which are filled with rare and exotic plants from all over the word and many different types of birds. Visitors are also able to tour the palazzo which is filled with endless amounts of furniture and beautiful artwork. In addition, there is an extensive private collection of different types of marionettes and scenery which was used in the in-home marionette theater.
When you arrive, by boat, to this Island, you must pay an entrance fee which includes the price of touring the gardens and the palazzo. The cost for adults is 11€ and 6€ for children between the ages of 6 and 15. For an added fee visitors also have the option to have a guided tour of the palazzo and the gardens. During peak times it is suggested to call ahead to reserve a guide. [email@example.com]
If you aren't planning on paying to visit the botanical garden or the palazzo there is honestly no reason to visit this island, as there is only a small restaurant and a little shop that sells ceramics and other little knick-knacks.
I visited Isola Madre during the off-season, in April, so I purchased my tickets when I arrived to the island versus pre-purchasing. After you purchase your ticket, you immediate enter the grounds of the Borromeo Family.
You will be able to freely roam around the botanical gardens on the island, where all of the rare and exotic plants from all over the world are marked with a little sign which states the country of origin and name of the plant. You will also be able to explore around the perimeter of the island and then explore the paths inside the botanical gardens which lead to the palazzo on the southern most part of the island. Here, you are able to enter and see an amazing collection of 17th-century artwork along with the extensive collection of marionettes and scenery.
When exiting the back side of the palazzo you will see a beautify ivy-covered walkway leading down to a lower garden area with a church that was used by the family.
Here, you will also find a spot to sit down and grab a bite to eat while enjoying the beautiful sites while taking in the views overlooking lake maggiore.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the beautiful gardens and hearing all of the different exotic birds and seeing them up close. You can spend as much time as you'd like on this island, and the small boat comes about every hour.
Unfortunately, since this is a private island, there is no place to stay overnight so I would suggest taking the boat ride back to Stresa, the mainland, and staying at a hotel there, or you can even take the hour train ride back to Milan and making a day trip out of it!
L'Isola Madre, Lake Maggiore, Italy 🇮🇹