We passed Isola Bella a few times on the ferry before taking a day trip. Quite honestly, it looked like the kind of over-the-top tourist destination I don’t usually like. In reality, it is so ostentatiously, outrageously ornate that after a few minutes you just have to accept it. Fifty paintings in one room? Yes–there are so many, they actually work together. A warren of basement rooms patterned with real shells? Of course, and why haven’t Chip and Joanna Gaines thought of that for a Fixer Upper episode? Tiered shelves in the garden, with life-size statues in the half shell, with bonus white peacocks roaming at will? By the time you get to that, you start thinking about the possibility of importing a few for your own back yard.
All in all, just a typical house in a typical neighborhood.
Even though Grandma Sybil last saw the island at the age of seven, she never forgot its enchantment. She looked forward to sharing this magical place with her grandchildren, and suffered a painful disappointment when the visit didn’t go as planned. But the results of their visit began a positive change in their family that would ultimately be as valuable to her as anything found in an Italian palace.