Isola Bella and Castelluccio di Norcia: 2 “little known” but unmissable destinations in Italy (for many good reasons)

View of Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore, Piedmont, Italy, steel engraving, ca 13×11 cm, from Italie pittoresque, Tableau Historique et descriptif de l’Italie, du Piemont, de la Sardaigne, de mortars, de la Sicile et de la Corse, published by Amable Costes, 1834-1836, Paris. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

They have been included among the 23 most “incredible but almost unknown” places in the world by the Independent. And, in fact, Isola Bella , on Lake Maggiore, and Castelluccio di Norcia , in Umbria, are destinations that are worth knowing. Rare gems, far from mass tourism, seem almost suspended over time. Huffpost has collected five reasons why it is better not to get away from it.


Perfect destination for a romantic weekend getaway, Isola Bella will know how to fill the heart and the eyes of those who want to admire it. Located in Piedmont, in front of Stresa, which is just 400 meters away, it is one of the most loved places on Lake Maggiore. To reach it, just take one of the ferries that depart every day from the piers of Stresa or Verbania: in a few minutes you will be sucked by its innate elegance and its triumph of architecture and precious gardens. Here are five reasons why it is worth visiting:

1. To get lost among the beauties of the Italian Garden

ISOLA BELLA, PIEDMONT, ITALY – 2016-06-06: Fountain at the terraced garden of Palazzo Borromeo at Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore. (Photo by Olaf Protze / LightRocket via Getty Images)
The Isola Bella Garden is a real paradise: the eyes and spirit can recharge at the sight of rare plants, statues and magnificent architectural decorations. Composed of ten terraces stacked with a broken pyramid, it occupies most of the island, measuring 320 meters in length and 180 in width: this is why it is an essential destination for those visiting this place. The upper part, from which you can admire the view, is nicknamed “amphitheater” and often hosted shows and outdoor performances. Beautifully kept by the gardeners who constantly prune, fertilize, experiment, this place of charm seems to be suspended in time.

2. Admire the majestic Palazzo Borromeo

Palazzo Borromeo at Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore, seen from the lakeside, Piemont, Italy.
Those who visit the garden can not miss the visit of the imposing Baroque palace : built starting in 1632, on the orders of Charles III Borromeo, as a tribute to his wife Isabella D’Adda, over time it has passed into the hands of the most in vogue of the time. A symbol of splendor, power and elegance: the interiors host numerous tapestries with Flemish tapestries, while the basement allows access to caves with walls covered with shells and decorated with mirrors of black marble.

3. Discover the symbolic form of the Isola Bella

ITALY – JANUARY 11: Isola Bella with Borromeo Palace and its Italian garden, 17th century, aerial view, Borromean Islands, Lake Maggiore, Piedmont, Italy. (Photo by DeAgostini / Getty Images)
In addition to hosting magnificent places, the island fascinates the most attentive tourists even with its shape. Starting in 1670, the island was renovated to turn it into a fantastic ship, where the part of the building was the bow and the part of the terraced gardens the stern. In fact, the project envisaged a long landing, then not completed in full, in front of the building in the western part.