If the heart could choose where to be taken for a walk, the three Borromeo Islands would be a certain destination, because with their beauty they beguile even the most demanding visitors.
When Giovanni's motorboat leaves the dock at Stresa and the wind begins to ruffle my hair, the vision of the three magnificent Borromeo islands is no longer just a postcard image, but takes on a vivid and magical connotation. Their silhouettes appear on the lake as if by magic, as if each had a soul and personality of its own.
The magnificent Isola Bella is immediately seen as regal and refined, representing a wonderful fusion between nature and human work: its territory has been shaped over the centuries to create extraordinary gardens and sumptuous salons. The team work of architects, engineers, plasterers, painters and cabinetmakers has given life to a princely palace that boasts four centuries of history: the famous caves covered with pebbles, pebbles and tuff fragments await me, but I would also like to review the Berthier Gallery with its baroque paintings, the Throne and Queens Hall and the Napoleon Hall, where the famous French general stayed with his wife Giuseppina.
And then, outside, the walk along the avenues of the well-kept Italian garden will allow me to reach the spectacular terraces placed at different heights and bounded by statues and balustrades, dominated by the majestic Amphitheater Massimo that occupies the central part of the island surrounded by an embroidery of flower beds.
A different atmosphere is breathed at Isola dei Pescatori: small and picturesque, it looks like a delightful village with characteristic multi-story houses, complete with long balconies to dry fish. Its narrow streets, steep steps, the enchanting lakeside promenade and the central square are passable only on foot, perhaps to reach one of the many restaurants that offer delicious perch.
The procession of the fishing boats in Ferragosto and the table set up by the islanders for Carnival (with polenta and a good glass of wine, of course ...) are among the traditional events that still survive, challenging modern times.
The third among the Borromeo Islands is known worldwide for its refined botanical collections: Isola Madre is the largest of the archipelago, but also the most secluded. The writer Flaubert called it "the most voluptuous place ever seen in the world", also due to its luxuriant vegetation and luxuriant nature. An ancient sixteenth century palace preserves precious furnishings inside and a collection of theaters and puppets, while the large park welcomes pheasants, parrots and peacocks free to wander among wisteria, azaleas and camellias that alternate with precious exotic plants.
In this enchanting place, time seems to have stopped and, as the sun begins to fall on the horizon, I greet with emotion these islands that have also been able to enchant Stehndal, Lord Byron and Dickens.
But I will certainly return because, as the saying goes, "the heart is not commanded".