Isola del Garda, also known as Isola Borghese, is the largest island on Lake Garda near the village of San Felice del Benaco in Italy. Although it is privately owned, access is allowed to the public during the summer season (from April until October).Tours of the island are conducted by members of the Cavazza family who reside there and can be booked through their website. The price of the tour includes a short boat ride from a number of villages around the lake to the small port on Isola del Garda.
Here, the first building that people see on arrival is the water tower. It slightly leans on one side due to the fact that the original structure built on top of it was too heavy; when it was removed the tower ended up looking like we see it today. After meeting the family members who will conduct the tour, people are split into groups according to which language they will attend the tour in: Italian, German and English.
A short walk past the first of a number of well maintained lawns, leads to a small house previously occupied by a family of workers and now in need of some serious renovation; curiously the house has the number 122 on an island with only two houses but, it was explained, it was for the postman that used to deliver the mail from the village of San Felice del Benaco nearby. Part of a tree said to have been planted by Franciscan monks that lived on the island can still be seen on the side of the house.
A walk through the extensive garden, past the well and outer buildings, offers the opportunity to see a number of plants and flowers that grow here thanks to the mild climate of Lake Garda, including Prickly Pear, a member of the cactus family. The gardens also have a small grotto that can be seen before reaching the villa.
The tour continues up a flights of stairs to a terrace bordered by fortification walls; from up there are here beautiful views of the lake on one side and the villa and its gardens on the other.
Next is a visit of a part of Villa Borghese-Cavazza open to the public; a beautiful Venetian Neo-Gothic style building, it has been carefully restored to its former glory by the Cavazza family who currently live in the villa. Access to the house is restricted to three rooms downstairs: a dining room, a small bedroom and a room full of treasured possessions handed down through the generations, including a number of portraits of previous owners of the villa. There is also a chance to have a look at a small private chapel.
The tour continues to the loggia under the tower where refreshments are offered together with the opportunity to try the olive oil produced by the family and, the possibility to buy books and postcards before moving on to the final part of the tour. A fresco can be seen on the ceiling of the loggia and as the villa and the gardens are often used for private functions (weddings here are very popular), a beautiful dressed table can also be seen under the loggia.
Isola del Garda is actually made up of two islands connected by a small bridge; visitors are taken over to the other part of the island which has some interesting trees that grow their roots in the water. It is also here that a small boat house is located and a pond with water lilies can also be seen. Visitors are then taken back to the small harbour where the boat is waiting to take everyone back.