Lago Maggiore - Day 2
Trip Start Apr 30, 2012
30Trip End May 29, 2012
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Good news! Hsing-ay was able to open her eyes this morning. Her eyes are still quite swollen, but she is doing much better and joined us on the porch for breakfast. We'll continue the drops and cream and plan to come home tomorrow as planned. Even so, she decided she wanted to stay home all day. She’s still nervous about being in the sun and feels quite tired. So, she will rest and take it easy and Kaela and I will venture out for our last day of sightseeing in Italy.
Lago Maggiore is best known for the Borromeo Islands. This family built beautiful palaces and gardens on these tiny islands just off the coast from Stresa. They are now open to tourists and are very popular. We had a beautiful sunny day and caught the 10:30AM ferry to Isola Bella. This is the most popular island where almost all of the real estate is taken up with a grand palace and a very exorbitant garden. The garden is crowned with a set of terraces filled with sculptures and flowers. White peacocks continue to wander these gardens and we were lucky to see one in full bloom. This is a beautiful island and feels like real fairy tale stuff. The background of Lago Maggiore and the surrounding islands makes it even more magical.
Isola dei Pescatori
Isola dei Pescatori is the small island next to Bella which was inhabited by fishermen and working families for the other islands. It is filled with small buildings and alleyways and looks a bit like Cinque Terre. There isn’t much to see here so we simply stopped for lunch. We found a beautiful terrace with a lake view and ordered Margarita Pizza (Kaela’s favorite style), and some tortellini. This was not great food and I noticed a kitchen filled with only microwaves. But Kaela loved it and declared that this island is not good for gardens or peacocks, but is really good for restaurants.
This island is slightly more remote and is taken up by one grand garden and a modest palace. It is not commercial and the garden is more of an arboretum than a manicured layout. It is also well known for the variety of exotic birds that wander as they wish. We found several more peacocks and got to see them up close. Many will say this is their favorite island because it has a more natural beauty, is much less crowded, and has a contemplative atmosphere. Kaela prefers the fairy tale qualities of Isola Bella.
Our outing lasted 6 hours. The boat and island hopping were almost as much fun as seeing the gardens. This is the perfect activity for a little girl. Hsing-ay was also delighted that we had a real father/daughter outing. This month in Italy began with boats in Venice and was ending with boats at Lago Maggiore. That is a nice symmetry. Our outing also ended in one last stop at the gelateria.
Hsing-ay had a very nice day at home and was feeling well. She was up for dinner so I took to the internet in the hopes of finding something special (and expensive) for our last night. I found a great place in Lesa with seats right over the water. Unfortunately it was closed on Mondays. We ended up at a recommended local place that specialized in seafood and pasta. For the first time in our entire trip, we had a menu that was hand written and had no English. We ended up with some simple but excellent local cooking at a restaurant that caters almost entirely to Italians.
Our three nights at Lago Maggiore were the only nights we spent in a B&B on the trip. We chose this spot because of its great location for both Lago Maggiore and Malpensa Airport. It turned out they have a lovely porch with view of the lake where we had Luisa’s wonderful breakfasts. Although the house, rooms, view, and breakfast were all great, we enjoyed Luisa and Eduardo even more. Meeting wonderful people is just one of several reasons why we try to avoid hotels when traveling.