Isola Bella is named after Charles III Borromeo’s wife, Isabella d’Adda. To amaze visitors is Palazzo Borromeo with the halls and rooms on the main floor, the caves, covered with stones and shells, and the garden that houses a multitude of exotic plants. The halls, the music and weapons rooms, the gardens, the ten overlapping terraces, (the Italian garden is embellished with water games and the statues of Carlo Simonetta) were inhabited by both Napoleon Bonaparte (1797) to whom a room is dedicated, which at Mussolini, who made it its representative seat during an international conference in 1935.
Isola Madre is home to the gardens that offer visitors an idea of the ancient splendor of the family. Considered among the best examples of topiary art in the world, it also houses several species of birds, including unique white peacocks, golden pheasants and parrots, the first camellia on the lake and the imposing cypress of Kashmir.
The only permanently inhabited island is the Fishermen’s Island, also known as the Upper Island. The pretty alleys and the characteristic shops where you can buy local handicrafts are very popular with tourists. The Church of San Vittore on Fishermen’s Island is a national monument and still preserves the original apse with single-lancet windows dating back to the 11th century. Inside there is a sixteenth-century fresco depicting Saint Agatha, as well as some seventeenth-century canvases and the wooden busts of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, patrons of fishermen.