images in Luna Commons
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Patron: Carlo Borromeo, 1586–1652; Giberto
Borromeo, 1615–1672; Vitaliano Borromeo, 1620–1690
Designer: Antonio Crivelli; Carlo Fontana, 1634–1714
Location: Europe — Italy — Piemonte — Lake Maggiore
The fantastic island villa of Isola Bella was begun in 1630 and
completed in 1670 for its patron, Count Carlo Borromeo, who had
the garden built in honor of his wife, Isabella, after whom the
villa is named. One of the most magnificent aspects of this early
Baroque Lombard villa designed by the architects Francesco Castelli,
Filippo Cagnola, and Carlo Fontana is its setting in the Borromeo
Gulf off of Lake Maggiore with views of the Alps in the distance.
The shape of the island evokes the form of a large galleon and the
layout of the parterre gardens and the non-axial relationship of
the house to the gardens is dictated largely by natural rock formations.
Located on the penultimate terrace of the villa is an ornate water
theater encrusted with pebbles and decorated with niches in the
form of giant scallop shells.