1. Isola Bela
Once home to a fishing village, this craggy little island on Lake Maggiore was acquired in 1632 by the aristocratic Borromeo family and named for Carlo III’s wife, Isabella (the name being contracted to Isola Bella). The island was transformed into a vast garden-and-palace complex by architects Giovanni Angelo Crivelli and Andrew Biffi, who created the dizzying series of chambers that compromise the palace, and sculpted the garden into high terraces, erupting with cypress and citrus trees. It is hard not to be seduced by the artful planting, exuberant statuary and the white peacocks that stalk the gardens.
(Photo courtesy of HOTC Media/Flickr Creative Commons)