Beautiful Lago Maggiore (The great(er) lake) contains a number of islands, three of which were close to the town of Intra, where I studied Italian for two weeks. And so, after a Saturday trip to nearby Milan, and Sunday morning Mass, Fr. Fasano and I boarded a ferry boat to tour three islands.
The first is Isola di Madre and is home to a large villa once owned by the great Borromeo family. This family is especially known for its famous cardinal saint, Charles Borromeo, but is known in general for the family's great wealth and influence in this northern reach of what is now modern Italy. Aside from hosting the villa, the island is one large private garden, boasting of plants, trees, etc., from around the world. During the time of the Borromeo family it was customary for wealthy families to collect exotic plants, birds, etc, and to construct their properties with stone and marbles from around the known world.
Situated next to the villa was a private chapel used by St. Borromeo when he would visit his family. And so, if my family is reading this post, they can take note of the superb chapel space provided for visiting priest sons!A passenger boat arrives every 20 minutes, making it convenient to tour the other islands. Next on our list was the Isola Superiore or Isola Pescatore (The Superior Island or The Fisherman's Island). This is the largest of the three and home to a good number of restaurants. And since it was lunch time, we lunched and watched the boats coming and going.The third and final stop was the Isola Bella (The Beautiful Island). There we toured a major manor of the Borromeo family. Surrounding the large manor are detailed gardens and an outdoor theater of sorts.All of this made for an enjoyable Sunday and helped gain a better understanding of the history of this important northern region of Italy. After our island tours we headed back to the new port of Intra to begin a new week of Italian studies!