Why you need to stay on the Borromean Islands
Updated: Oct 9, 2022
Under the gaze of the Alps, boats coast along the water humming faintly from port to port, completing that classic Italian picture you’ve always longed for – a relaxed, dream.
What we did?
Where: Isola Superiore/Pescatori (Fisherman’s Island) - Hotel Belvedere
When: Mid-late September 2020
How long: 2 nights
Our 5 favourite reasons to stay on the Borromean Islands
1. Wake up every morning surrounded by water.
There is something extremely serene about waking up surrounded by water. The gentle hum of boats will have already started before you wake up, taking workers and early-rising tourists to their destinations; others will be parked idly in the middle of the lake.
2. Experience a unique Italian lifestyle.
For as small and picturesque as the islands are, and here we are specifically talking about Isola Supierore, there are people that do call the island home. Forty people live day-to-day behind the doors along the narrow, winding alleyways. Remembering that people do still work and live on the island today, not just in the pages of the history book, gives you a special appreciation of Isola Supierore.
3. The landscapes and views.
We’re convinced that the sunrise over the Alps lighting up the lake will offer the area’s most spectacular views. Houses perched on the green hills with misty mountain tops beyond the sparkling water. Magical.
4. Eating and drinking are not as expensive as you think!
Considering how much of a captive audience we were - off-season dining options are limited - we didn’t find the restaurants and gifts too expensive.
A fantastic meal for two with 1.5L of wine at Ristorante La Pescheria with a picturesque view overlooking the harbour and hills of Stresa came to only €40. Considering the location, quality of food and amount ordered, we were expecting around €55-65?
Hotel prices, on the other hand, will fluctuate. In September, a room with a large balcony for 2 nights at Hotel Belvedere cost us £230 - considering there aren’t many hotels, that price isn’t unreasonable. In summer, however, this may be nearer £300.
5. You’re a boat ride away from Switzerland!
As the longest lake in the cluster, Lake Maggiore meanders into southern Switzerland, offering a completely different culture to delve into. Popular destinations include Brissago, Ascona and Locarno (the two latter being larger, more-journeyed towns), all of which can be reached by ferry (only available from Easter to mid-October!).
In fact…it’s a good time to explain the two transport options available on the lake:
Navigazione Laghi Ferries travel up and down the lake’s ports from Locarno to Arona. Prices can differ For more info and timetables: https://www.navigazionelaghi.it/risultati?lake=Maggiore
Water taxis are much smaller, running on a relaxed timetable just from Carciano (a port just north of Stresa) to the Borromean Islands. These are €5 per person per trip. We were desperate to visit Ascona, as we were told by locals that it is the quintessentially perfect lake town – even they visit Ascona. Palm trees will greet you along the art-lined promenades and you’ll sip a coffee overlooking the lake thinking you’re in a sophisticated paradise. Unfortunately, we missed the boat...
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