It took four hundred years and the work of a hundred men (qualified architects, engineers, stucco workers, painters and cabinet-makers) to transform Isola Bella from a barren rock in the middle of the lake to a place of delight. Until 1630, Isola Bella was but a cliff inhabited by fishmongers, with a couple of churches and vegetable gardens sprinkled here and there. The Borromeo family, owner of Isola Madre since 1501, took an interest in the Isola Bella since the first twenty years of the century. The interest resulted into Giulio Cesare III and Carlo III starting the ambitious project for the palazzo we can see today.
The project was then pursued, expanded and revised by Vitaliano VI, who is considered the official settler of Isola Bella.
The work were restless even after him, and continued for all the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries until 1948, when Vitaliano IX Borromeo built the Salone Nuovo, the northern façade and the great docks.