Villa Brandolini on Lake Maggiore is a romantic and ancient abode. The large Villa is furnished with antiques and modern design, counts a charming decorated inner Patio sustained by pink granite columns, and is located in a historic terraced garden with a spectacular swimming pool overlooking the stunning Borromeo Gulf. The Villa is a few steps away from shops and the main boulevard along the characteristic Baveno village shore, near Stresa. Milan is a quick ride by train or by car.
The Villa, originally developed by an Andalusian aristocrat (hence the Patio) during the Spanish occupation in the 17th century, is placed in a garden designed by Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) – a famous French Catholic thinker who developed the “Philosophy of Action”. After he found the Villa around 1910, Blondel, who had a passion for nature, dedicated most of his free time to planning the various areas of the garden and he did this constantly referring to his own philosophical ideas. The garden therefore, for example, includes a formal Italian box garden depicting a Lilium symbolizing the holy mother virgin. Blondel further constructed a Japanese and rose garden, and, in the already existing Arboretum he planted exotic specimens from Persia, South America and Australia.
A large swimming pool, fully in character with the garden and built using the typical local stone (“beola”), overlooks Lake Maggiore and the famous Borromeo Islands.
Villa Brandolini is an ideal place to relax and spend time with friends and family in one of the most spectacular settings in Italy, as well as somewhere to stay with a view to visit Milan or local treasures such as the botanic garden of the Isola Madre, or the Rococo Palace and garden of the Isola Bella, or the characteristic Isola Pescatori (Fishermen Island), or nearby charming Lake Orta with its convent.
The busy pavement cafes, restaurants and lively cultural venues to be found on the “Lungo Lago” of Baveno and elsewhere in the area are a major draw for our guests. Verbania and Omegna offer their famous “Mercato”, while night life is covered by various clubs and lounge bars.
Milan lies 90km away and can be reached by car in under 45 minutes (outside rush hours) thanks to a fast motorway (Baveno exit is 1km from the Villa), or by train. Train trips to Milan are made easy by the fact that the Baveno train station lies a mere 300 meters from the Villa’s gates – once on the train it takes around an hour to get to the Milan Garibaldi train station, smack in the middle of Milan’s Brera shopping district.
Golf lovers will find that there are two lovely courses nearby – the Alpino and the Iles
des Borromees Golf Club.
Cyclists who wish to follow in the footsteps of their Giro d’Italia heroes can take their
bike up the road on the same track that the Giro uses to reach the Mottarone climb, a 1500m ascent with spectacular views which starts from the Villa.
Below some information on the area around Villa Brandolini.
Baveno has a number of important buildings. First, the town has been around a long time, Roman imprinting was confirmed by the discovery of Roman cemeteries at the time of Emperor Claudius. The clean water spring was used for a fully-fledged Roman bath house. There is a very sweet little church San Gervaso and one of the most striking features is the Villa Branca, which was designed by the architect of Saint Pancreas train station in London Sir George Gilbert Scott. The Villa Branca hosted Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill used to summer just a stone's throw away. A few minutes walk above our house you will find the old Roman paths used by the Romans to march on the Germanic barbarians.
Stresa - the town has a beautiful view on the Isola Bella which in and of itself is a site to behold. The Palazzo on Isola Bella was built in honour of a relative of Leopolda d'Adda, Isabella d'Adda. Leopolda is the owner of Villa La Romanica’s great grandmother.
Stresa also is the home of the Grand Hotel des Isles Borromee - which has a wonderful bar for Negronis, a clay tennis court and a very good beauty spa. It is one of the favourite destinations of the world's well-heeled and is reminiscent of the Grand Budapest Hotel in its hey-day.
Another great Dolce Vita bar is the Gigi bar Pasticceria Stresa Of special note are the pizzette and salted mandorle that go with the Campari Orange and the view of the coming and going of the sight-seeing boats of Stresa's Embarcadero. The establishment can be found on the Lungo Lago and is very convenient for a lazy morning coffee break as well.
Please note that the Borromeos are also the proud owners of the Isola Madre, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful botanical gardens in the world. Listed as such by the RHS. The island has a small eatery but it is not really of outstanding quality.
Driving toward the Swiss border direction Gravellona there is Feriolo which was, in Roman times, the refuelling stations for these Roman armies. This is probably one of the reasons that the area later developed its culture of metallurgy. Close by the pots, pans and caffetiere factories of Alessi, Lagostina, Baruffaldi and Bialetti and an endless number of small suppliers are located.
Following the lungo lago to the Swiss border direction Lugano you will find in short order Verbania and Pallanza, homes of many famous Scala conductors and composers such as Toscanini who used to summer in the small Borromeo island in front of the Villa Rusconi.
Pallanza is also the venue for the Villa Taranto with its gorgeous garden and its lungo lago has neatly civilized nooks and crannies that contain a rowing club and truly lovely tennis facilities and of course endless terraces for short breaks.
This is moreover the venue of hundreds of lovely summer residences of Lombard and British aristocrats seeking to escape the heat of the big cities and basically imitate the Borromeo family.
Again, following the road along the lake you will be able to reach Ghiffa and Cannobio: a plethora of beautiful villas and equally breath taking gardens that have wonderful collections of Camelias and unique dramatically old-fashioned gardening schemes with exotic tree species and shrubs.
A visit to the Lago d'Orta is a must. There are two itineraries to choose from. Leaving Baveno from our house you can drive in the direction of the Mottarone - the smallish mountain above the villa, and use the private road of the Borromeo family to get to its top. This will allow you to see all four of the lakes in our immediate surroundings: Lago Maggiore, Lago Orta, Lago Mergozzo and Lago Varese. A sight to behold and very splendid indeed. One you can then descend to Lago Orta which is also truly gorgeous. Of special note is Orta Village and the island called San Giulio with its convent. It was here that Nietsche stole a kiss from a beautiful woman he met whilst walking the alleys of San Giulio.
Another site is the old town of Varallo which one can reach by car via a meandering pass starting at Lago Orta. Varallo is very close to Borgosesia home of Loro Piana the Kashmir manufacturer that was recently been sold to Louis Vuiton. One of the important palazzi in the city centre belonged to Il Conte Brandolini d’Adda’s (the present owner of Villa La Romanica) grandmother - you can find the stemma of his grandparents adorning the Palace's facade. A visit to the town can be a great excuse to go bargain hunting in Loro Piana's outlet which can be found close to the exit of the autostrada. Also, of note is that there are other Kashmir outlets (Colombo Kashmir) in the area.
Domodossola is a truly charming old market town on the way to the Val Devero. This in turn is an incredible Alpine Plateau with mountain vegetation, good genuine "rifugi" a good place to rest tired bones after long invigorating walks. On the way over a stop at the cathedral in Baceno (11th century) with spectacular wall murals is lovely. The other side of the Val d'Ossola valley offers the Val Grande - the largest uninhabited nature reserve in Western Europe. It is not very accessible and therefore populated with exotic snake species and other types of wild life. Rafting and climbing is available and bird watching excellent.
Some of the most famous walking tracks in the Alps are an easy reach from Baveno, including Val Devero, Valgrande, Valstrona, the Mottarone (just above the Villa) and the Toce river.