A Childhood Glimpse into Art’s Heart: Memories of Palazzo Borromeo

Recounting a Journey of Artistic Wonder and Playful Encounters

I remember my first visit to Palazzo Borromeo on Isola Bella, near Stresa on Lake Maggiore, as if it were yesterday. I was only 7 or 8 years old, and a child’s curiosity drove me to run ahead of everyone during the guided tour, eager to be in the front row. I wanted to hear every word the guide said and tried to get the best possible view, considering my not-so-imposing height at the time.

Over the years, I have returned many times to this place that tastes like a fairy tale for me. Each time, I brought home some image, a fragment of that magic. On one of these visits, I found myself in front of Gaetano Monti’s “Naked Venus,” inspired by Canova’s “Sleeping Nymph.” I remember photographing it, captivated by its ethereal beauty. This work is housed in the “Grottoes” of the palace, a setting that almost seems like a modern artistic installation.

However, the sensuality of this statue, which is quite overtly displayed, was not always appreciated by everyone. I recall reading that Gilberto V Borromeo, faced with the complaints of some more prudish guests, even thought of getting rid of the work. Fortunately, this plan was never realized, allowing us today to admire without disturbance the perfection of this piece of art.

And to conclude with a personal anecdote linked to that first visit as a child: I was wearing a straw hat, borsalino style, that was definitely too big for my head. At one point during the visit, the guide, noticing me always in the front row with this hat pulled down to my ears, suddenly grabbed it and put it on her head. This unexpected gesture triggered laughter from everyone present. I stood there, surprised and a bit embarrassed, not knowing whether to laugh too or what to do. That moment, so light and playful, has remained etched in my memory, a sweet and fun recollection of my first foray into the world of art.

By Marco Mattiuzzi

A multifaceted artist, former teacher and communicator, he has dedicated years to art and communication. He taught classical guitar, exhibited photos and wrote in magazines. In the book sector, he promoted photography and art through HF Distribuzione, a company specialized in mail-order sales. He currently owns CYBERSPAZIO WEB & STREAMING HOSTING. In 2018, he created the Facebook group "Art Pills" with over 65,000 members and manages CYBERSPAZIO WEB RADIO dedicated to classical music. He collaborates with several cultural organizations in Vercelli, including Amici dei Musei and Artes Liberales.
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