One of the highlights of our day on the Borromean Islands was wandering through the hidden alleys on Isola Pescatori... The whole centre of the island is a labyrinth of picturesque alleys that are just waiting to be explored!
As most visitors spend their time on the waterfront, the alleys are much quieter. Although there are some restaurants and shops to be found there, it is not that busy, and it is possible to find some wonderful spots and photo opportunities.
To see more pictures, please see my travelogue!
While you walk along the lakefront, most attention is focused on the side of the water because that is where the harbour and the stop of the boats is, as well as all the souvenir stalls. However, you should have a look at the other side, too, as there are some interesting local houses. They are quite large and I found them very pretty. Most of them have long balconies full of green plants and flowers. In the past, when Isola Pescatori was still a fishing village, the fish were hang to dry there.
Although the island is now so touristy, there are still locals living here, and I saw elderly ladies sitting on the balconies, and a friendly old man was sitting on a bench in front of his house and watched the tourists walking along. I wonder what he was thinking about all of this!
Isola Bella's church is located right on the waterfront. I still include it in the Off The Beaten Path category, because hardly anyone went there - everybody seemed so engaged by the many souvenir stalls and the harbour (plus the toilets which are just next door) that the church almost went unnoticed!
Construction of this church began in 1665, but it was not Isola Bella's first church. The original one had been located on a position high up on the hill, but it was in the way of the Borromeo family's plans to build a palace. Thus, the old church was demolished and a new one built in this new location where it did not disturb... While the old church had been dedicated to San Nazaro, the new one was dedicated to San Vittore and contains a reliquary of him.
The church has a nice baroque façade and the interior is quite interesting with baroque side chapels and a rather plain, but pretty ceiling.
It would be a good idea to spend at least half an hour in the streets of Isola Bella, you can never know what you find just around the corner in this small isle - small shops, cosy restaurants, stone wall or just an interesting local balcony... Explore it :)