a plant in a garden
a plant in a garden

Isola Madre

The largest of the three Borromean islands, Isola Madre is known for its impressive botanical gardens. Formerly known as Isola di San Vittore and then Isola Maggiore, its transformation began in 1501 when count Lancillotto Borromeo bought the island and drew up plans for a large villa and gardens.

Nowadays tourists come to admire almost 20 acres of botanical gardens that showcase a variety of rare plants, including the largest example of a Kashmir cypress tree in Europe and the scala dei morti, or wisteria-covered ‘staircase of the dead’. The Palazzo has also been open to the public since 1978, and contains many historical artefacts from when the family inhabited the island; the most impressive being the Venetian living room with embellished walls, created to give the impression of standing outside in a flower-covered gazebo. 

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