A "botanical" Wunderkammer: these are the words used by Paolo Pejrone to describe Lake Maggiore's two most beautiful gems. The islands bear the name of the ancient aristocratic Borromeo family, the owners since the sixteenth century who today, as in the past, work hard to preserve its precious beauty.
Isola Madre features an imposing palace surrounded by a terraced garden, originally filled with citrus trees, fruit trees, and rare species. It was not until the nineteenth century, in keeping with the romantic taste of that period, that the park started to resemble an English-style garden, which has continued to the present time, featuring tall trees, evergreens, and some of the richest botanical collections in Europe. Isola Bella was conceived as a one-of-a-kind green architecture where everything is artificial. Ten sloping terraces are connected to wide flights of steps and enriched with pinnacles, sculptures, niches, tubs and parterres of flowers, reminiscent of the scenery on a stage invented to inspire wonder and marvel. This astonishing Baroque garden has always been the destination of illustrious guests: from the aristocracy of the European courts in the seventeenth century, to journeyers undertaking the Grand Tour, to Napoleon and Joséphine, and, lastly, to today’s international tourism. The careful eye of the photographer Dario Fusaro examines each and every corner of these enchanting places, where man’s ingeniousness is combined with luxuriant nature and a taste for experimentation, for a scenario that is truly unique in the world. As the reader leafs through this book they cannot help but be enchanted by the array of colors of the magnolias, camellias, wisteria, hibiscus, azaleas, not to mention the extraordinary collection of South African protea plants, which thrive thanks to the mild lacustrian climate.