Isolino Virginia – A beautiful place full of history

Suddenly after pulling the oar for more than 1/2 an hour in a kayak, I can see an island coming towards me. A little island in a remote spot of lake Varese. I have never seen it before nor have I ever heard about the small island called: Isolino Virginia. But I promised myself in that moment in the kayak just passing by, that I will come back to this beautiful island one day…

That was my first time I came across Isolino Virginia – the island in lake Varese with its characteristic triangular shape of about 9200 square meters located just a few meters from the shore of Commune Biandronno and since 1863 one of the most famous sites of European prehistory AND since June 27, 2011, it is on UNESCO World Heritage List on the List of “Prehistoric Architectural Sites of the Alpine Arch.”

I had no clue about any of this.

Second time I came across the island was with my family. I wanted them to see this island as well, so I was delighted to discover that there was a boat trip from Schiranna on lake Varese going directly to Isolino Virginia. The trip takes 35 minuts every Sunday during the summer.

It was a hot shiny sunny Sunday, so it felt refreshing being out on lake Varese seeing my well-known neighborhood from the seaside. The boat was not full and I wondered how many people there will be on Isolino Virginia. I knew from the first time I saw it from the kayak, that there was a nice restaurant on the island.

La Tana dell’Isolino was the name of the restaurant and it looked like a nice place to have lunch… except we were not the only ones that came up with that idea. It was fully packed with families, kids and waitresses running fast to serve all the guests in the restaurant. So instead of having lunch in the restaurant (everything was occupied) we decided to have a kind of a “picnic” next to the restaurant at the tables and chairs surrounding the place. It was also much better to be out here in the nature, being a part of nature instead of sitting inside the crowded restaurant 🙂 …

After a light picnic and something to drink we decided to visit the whole island which meant “going for a walk for about 10 minuts”. While we did so I Googled the place: Isolino Virginia and found this very interesting information:

“Isolino Virginia is owned by the municipality of Varese since 1962. Thanks to the donation of the Marquis of Gianfelice Ponti, the island is an archaeological and environmental site bound among the most important in Europe. Over the years it has changed its name and in the 16th century it was known as the island of S. Biagio because there was a church dedicated to the homonymous saint. Later it took the name of Camilla, wife of Duke Antonio Lotta Visconti Arese, and in 1878 it was given the name; Virginia – to honor the wife of Marchese Andrea Ponti. It is one of the most important prehistoric palafittal settlements whose wooden structures have been preserved over time, because they are submerged by lake water and vegetation. Since 2011 the island is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List of “Prehistoric Archaeological Sites in the Alps”. After the 2006 campaign, the remains were placed in their places of origin, but they were made of a cast, which reproduces the collapse of a part of a neolithic structure, and some sections so that they can be shown to the public. The island tour, which lasts approximately two hours, provides a visit to the Virginia prehistoric museum, which is based on the Villa Mirabello archaeological museum and the open-air educational path.”

I didn’t know all that, which gave the place – Isolino Virginia – more meaning while we walked.

When we were on the boat again on our way back to Schiranna I decided two things: 1. I will come back to this beautiful, peaceful and unique tiny island 2. And when I do so… I will have booked a table in restaurant: Tana dell’Isolino beforehand 🙂

For more information about Isolino Virginia, Tana dell’Isolino, the boat trips, events on the island and so on – you can find on the following website: here

2 Replies to “Isolino Virginia – A beautiful place full of history”

  1. Just bee aware there are signs saying “no pinic”. The restaurant is good with reasonable prices. The negative is that the ferry at (€10 return from Biandronno) is very poor on timing especially during the lunch period and no matter what the schedule or staff say (every 30min) there is a gap from 12pm to 14:45.

    1. You are right!

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