Travels in Italy: Lombardy – Isola Isabella & Isola Madre on Lake Maggiore (May 27, 2015)

Isola Bella

Map of the Lombardy region of Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps

Map of the Lombardy region of Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps

The Isola Isabella (Isabelle Island) is home to a few wonders. The Borromeo family built a Baroque and Neoclassical palace that took 150 years to complete. Inside there are several paintings and sculptures that the family collected. Also, it is said that Napoleon and his entourage once stayed at the palace for one night but left the rooms in a disorganized state.

On the bottommost level, there is a grotto made of volcanic rock from Pompeii and several pebbles from the local surroundings. The grotto is dedicated to the Lady Isabella Borromeo and houses a sleeping Venus statue as well as several artifacts.

Isola Bella

Isola Bella

The sculpture garden at the back of the palace is built on several layers of stone with twisting vines. It also is home to several white peacocks and peahens that shrill indignantly when one walks close by. Continue reading

Travels in Italy: Lombardy – Milan (May 26, 2015)

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Map of the Lombardy region of Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps

Map of the Lombardy region of Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps

Attractions:

  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Duomo
  • Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Opera House)
  • Castello Sforzesco (Sofrenza Palace) with Pietà

Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region of Italy—the region begins at the Alps near the Switzerland border and goes down to the River Po. The Lombards, a Germanic tribe, resided in the area in 6th century AD were adept at trade and commerce, giving rise to the fame of the region. Today, Milan is still the financial and fashion center of Italy.

We only spent half the day in Milan, so we were only able to visit a few places with the local tour guide. We met our guide at the Palazzo Marino, which is central to the main attractions in the city.

Then we walked to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II—an ornate shopping center built in the shape of a Latin cross with mosaics representing the four continents of the world. Filled with designer brands, the Galleria is a shopping paradise for the wealthy.

Galleria

As we exited the Galleria, we entered the Piazza del Duomo, where we had a grand view of the Duomo of Milan.

Piazza del Duomo

The Duomo is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world and originated from the 14th century.

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The outside of the cathedral is made of pink and white marble; the façade is elaborately decorated with several spires and statues. Admission costs 2 euros per person to the cathedral and crypt. We were allowed free time to explore on our own. Continue reading

Travels in Italy: Lombardy – Lake Como & Lake Maggiore (May 26-27, 2015)

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Map of the Lombardy region of Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps

Map of the Lombardy region of Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps

Lake Como is a resort area for the ritzy and trendy peoples of the world. At Lake Como, our tour director arranged a private boat to give us a tour of the lake. One can see the villas of famous celebrities, including the Queen of England, George Clooney, etc. It is a pleasant experience for those who enjoy learning of the private lives of famous people.

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The town of Lake Como is a small, touristy place that had its usual shops and a Gothic-style church. We only had a couple of hours to wander around.

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We resided in the resort area nearby Lake Maggiore at Grand Hotel Dino for two nights (while we visited Lake Como and the nearby Isola Isabella and Isola Madre). Unfortunately a lot of the shops in the nearby area close early, so it was difficult to do any grocery or souvenir shopping.

Italy