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Partner Garden
Free access for RHS members at selected times

28838 Stresa VB

20 acres, Isola Madre; 7 acres, Isola Bella

00 39 323 933478

Visit website

Opening Hours

Daily, 17 Mar–1 Nov. Please see website for opening times.


Please see website for admission prices.

RHS members

Free access (member 1 only for joint memberships) applies when open.


  • Assistance dogs only
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Free carer entry
  • Gift shop
  • Group rates
  • Toilets


  • Mediterranean/Italian garden
  • Sculpture
  • Sub-tropical garden
  • Water garden

About the garden

Owned by
Vitaliano Borromeo Arese

The grand Italian baroque garden of Isola Bella may be one of the most famous and best preserved in Italy. Built in different periods, it is a coherent pyramid shape that culminates in the great statue of the Unicorn Ridden By Love. Divided into 10 sloping terraces, it is decorated with ponds, fountains and statues dating from the second half of the 17th century representing personifications of rivers, winds and seasons. Many of the 'rooms' are enclosed by walls and balustrades on which can be detected the points from which jets, fountains, waterfalls and water features spring. 

The particularly mild weather has enabled the growth of a vast variety of plant species, which have found their habitat within the garden. Among azaleas and rhododendrons, grapefruit, bitter orange espaliers and orchids, stands the figure of a large camphor tree that is more than 200 years old. 

Extending over 20 acres, Isola Madre is the largest of the Borromean Islands. Its botanical heritage and strongly exotic flavour have made it, in the words of Gustave Flaubert, “the most voluptuous place ever seen”. The gardens are the very soul of the island, and over time have given this corner of heaven an image that is constantly new, from an orchard where grapes, figs, olives, chestnuts and cherries are grown, to an Italian-style terracing with a display of orange, lemon and citron trees. 

Starting in the 1800s, the works progressively transformed the vast farmland into an English botanical garden. Isola Madre is not only renowned for the spectacular flowering of its azaleas in May, but also for its botanical gardens that are home to rare plant species originating in the most diverse latitudes – maple, banana, palm trees, camellias, protea and eucalyptus. 

Animals with a colourful plumage and luxurious vegetation make this island an Eden surrounded by water.

Plants of special interest

  • Agapanthus
  • Begonias
  • Bluebells
  • Cacti & succulents
  • Camellias
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Clematis
  • Conifers
  • Cornus (for winter stems or spring bracts)
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Dahlias
  • Fruit blossom
  • Fruit bushes/trees
  • Fuchsias
  • Herbs
  • Irises
  • Lavender
  • Lilies
  • Magnolias
  • Maple
  • Orchids
  • Primulas
  • Rhododendrons/azaleas
  • Roses
  • Shade-loving plants
  • Spring bulbs
  • Topiary
  • Waterlilies
  • Wisteria

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.