Travelling between the Borromean Islands of Isola Bella and Isola Superiore dei Pescatori on the calm waters of Lake Maggiore, I find myself not thinking about the elaborate palace, bizarre sculptures and lavish gardens of Isola Bella, nor of the lunch of local lake fish, which I plan to have on Isola Superiore, but of the small uninhabited rock, which lies between them.
The boat does not stop there––it is necessary to charter a special launch if you want to land and no one, surely, would bother?––leaving the small island shunned, like an unloved, runtish sibling stuck between two more beautiful offspring.
I watch as the rock draws nearer. It is true that it is not particularly attractive––two tall trees, protruding from a dense tangle of untamed shrubbery. There is a beach of sorts, although… is it really a beach? Not in the classical definition of the word. A few ducks have made its shoreline their home. That’s all. None of my fellow passengers give it so much as a glance but, for me, it holds a magnetic appeal.
There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about this little speck in the lake, which is known as Malghera, that should make it so fascinating for me. But I know precisely what is its charm. It is the fact that I can’t go there. I can only watch on as the tiny island now recedes, and my ferry boat prepares to dock at Isola Superiore.
The ‘grass is greener’ syndrome is the curse of modern travellers. In an age, which spoils us, we still always most want the one thing that we can’t have.
© E. C. Glendenny
Travel writer, E. C. “Easy” Glendenny, blows a kiss to unloved Malghera.