On the fishermen’s island
A romantic gem for your next holiday can be found in the middle of Lake Maggiore. Come with us to Isola dei Pescatori, the "fishermen’s island".
Five small islands project very picturesquely out of the water in the Bay of Verbania, in the western part of Lake Maggiore: Isola Madre, Isola Bella, Isolino di San Giovanni, Scoglio della Malghera, and finally, Isola dei Pescatori. Together, they are also known as the "Borromean Islands".
The islands owe their names to the influential Borromeo family, whose vast properties around Lake Maggiore they belonged to in the late Middle Ages. Isola dei Pescatori is the only island on the lake which has been inhabited continuously since the 14th Century. Nowadays, around 30 permanent residents still live on the island, which is just three hectares in size.
As the name "Isola dei Pescatori" already suggests ("pescatori" means "fishermen" in Italian), fishing has always played an important role in the livelihood of the inhabitants. During the aristocratic reigns of the Borromeo & co. families who resided in their palaces on Isola Madre and Isola Bella, "ordinary" people lived on Isola dei Pescatori, in the small fishing village with the harbour.
This small harbour presents a picturesque image nowadays. Surrounded by the foothills of the Alps, which are reflected in the blue surface of the lake, "pure deceleration" is the motto that best describes a holiday on Isola dei Pescatori. Up until a few years ago, the people who paid visits to the island wre mainly day trippers. Since then, the number of holidaymakers who also spend a longer stay here has grown.
Our tip: Divide the holiday into two parts: First, you spend a week at Lake Maggiore or at one of the other Italian lakes. Exciting excursions into the surrounding area could then be on the itinerary. For example, discover picturesque Bellagio at Lake Como, take the cable car to the 2,000 metre-high Monte Baldo at Lake Garda, or pay a visit to the cultural and shopping metropolis of Milan (incidentally, Expo 2015 is currently taking place in Milan). Following this eventful holiday period, you can go into full relaxation mode for another week in the seclusion of Isola dei Pescatori.
A holiday apartment in one of the historic buildings on the island is ideal for this. For example, you can relax during the day, read a book once again, watch the comings and goings in the harbour, go for a swim in the lake, play a game of boccia, or set off on a small boat tour. In the evening, you can then either go to one of the nice restaurants on the island or cater for yourself in the kitchen of your holiday accommodation – in the best case, of course, with fresh fish you bought in the harbour, right off the boat.
A visit to the other Borromean Islands is, of course, also worthwhile. Isola Bella and Isola Madre are within easy reach via the boat that also takes you to the mainland. Stately mansions (palazzi) and beautiful garden complexes await you here - which invite you to stroll around or picnic. The English-style landscape garden on Isola Madre is regarded as one of the most exemplary specimens of horticulture in the 19th Century.
You can reach Isola dei Pescatori - whether for a day trip or an extended stay - via the boat from Stresa. Clearly, you cannot take your car with you to the island. The island neither has the space nor the necessary roads for it.