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Isola Bella

Dates: 1630
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 (Stresa)

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.

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