08 June 2020

Historical places in Lombardy: three out of town escapes

At this time of closure of borders we can enjoy the beauty in Lombardy, here there are three out of town escapes, with historical places to see:

1.  Borromeo Palace, Isola Bella

The Borromean islands are an archipelago of five islands in Maggiore lake, a wonderful natural landscape, an elegant and rustic small paradise surrounded by blue, where it is possibile to visit an historical gem of Italian architecture: Borromeo palace, on isola Bella. The land was purchased in the XVI century by Giulio Cesare Borromeo, and in the XVII century the island took the name of Carlo III Borromeo’s wife, Isabella d’Adda. the works inside the palace started in 1632 by the architect Giovanni Angelo Crivelli. In this palace they chose to privilege the private dimension of the family. The style is finely sober: a succession fo lodges and rooms, furnished with tapestry, furniture and paintings coming from a variety of historical villas the Borromeo family owned in Lombardy. Between the most important rooms: banquet hall, Seasons salon, Venetian lounge, the Library, the Battles room, and Popes room. Everywhere, from lodges or big windows, it is possible to see the evocative glimpses of the lake and botanical park. Porcelain and liveries, family paintings, canopy beds decorated with sumptuous brocade make a charming fresco of courtly life. It is ideal if you want to please your eyes with exquisite period details.

Monte Isola, Iseo Lake

The Iseo lake became renown at international level for the artwork The Floating Piers by the land art artist Christowho died recently. In the middle of the lake there is a small island, Monte Isola, you can reach with a ferry. The ideal thing would be to reach the monastery at the top of the mountain, but we just walked the path all around the island, walking through the small towns and having our slow 2 hours lunch at Ristorante La Torre enjoying the lake view. This is a magic place, the magic is in the balance of colours and facades, in the slowness, in the beauty and peculiarity of flowers, in the poetry of terracotta vases framing old balconies, in the carefully abandoned statues in the wild meadows, in the blue shade of shutters tickled by the blooming purple bouganville, in the gentleness of modern frescos decorating houses, in the good smell of laundry hanging out to dry next to balustrades, in the view of small boats swinging on the water, in the red painted benches, in Our Ladies leading you down the path and indicating hidden glimpses of the lake. It is a perfect destination for all those times you wish to get inside a postcard.

Villa Monastero, Varenna

Varenna is one hour train from Milan, a tiny town, it becomes you with its multitude of bars and restaurants, wrought iron gates, lush green, ancient buildings, and hidden little beaches. You can walk it all quickly, and you find a few places worth a visit, such as Villa Monastero. Villa Monastero is an eclectic villa with a nordic style twist. Its origins dates back to ancient times when it was built in the XII century on the base of an old female monastery. During the years is was passed over to different owners, who changed the look of it, especially at the end of XIX century, when also the beautiful garden was re-worked and turned into the botanic garden, which you can visit today, a green paradise full of a variety of fruits and plants, wanted by the owner of the time, the milanese naturalist with Swiss origins Marco De Marchi. In 1939 De Marchi family donated the property to allow everyone to visit villa Monastero and its incredible garden.The interior is impressive for the level of details: wooden carvings of flower inspiration with a high level of craftsmanship decorates the legs and edges of furniture, marble marquetry with botanical drawings, sinuous boiserie inspired by the art nouveau, materic wallpapers, expertise and wonderful high-relief decorations, and while you walk inside this exhilarating space, the environment is muted by the pauses on the blue of the lake through the windows, that allow your eyes to rest over the calm beauty of nature.