YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT…
The exact name of Isola Pescatori is Isola Superiore dei Pescatori because it was the first island to be inhabited in the whole archipelago; in a Episcopal law of 1627 our island was called Insella or Insula Superior, differently from the near Insula Inferior (Isola Bella) not yet inhabited. It is the only island that does not belong to the Borromeo heritage. The island is essentially a small village which has ancient origins: you would discover them by visiting the little church of San Vittore where you could have a look at its millenary history.
THE INHABITANTS OF ISOLA PESCATORI
Isola Pescatori is inhabited during the whole year by about 50 people. The peculiar life conditions push residents to a spontaneous solidarity in case of need. Fishing, that used to be the main activity, is always practiced by some families that maintain this charming and ancient tradition. If you are lucky, you could meet a fisherman on the lakeside repairing its fishnets. You could find the traces of this ancient trade everywhere on the island: on the coda, the northern part where the island ends, you would find some iron support once used to leave fishnets; in the port area, where the fisherman’s boat are moored, there is a stove once used to dye the fishnets, whose color varies according to the specific use.
Many cats live on the island, that is a sort of safe paradise. You can find them all around, always looking for something to eat; some others, despite their bashfulness, look for a scratchy. In winter, you can see dozens huddling in the cold weather. When Summer comes, toads wake up and start their natural activity. You can see lots of them under the street lamp light in the warm summer nights, chasing flies. In July you can assist to the spectacular “invasion” of many baby-toads (as big as a bean) jumping all over the narrow streets. The typical lacustrine waterfowl is mainly composed by gulls and mallards. Couples of swans use to visit the island, often with their nestful. During the Summer, many swallows are busy, restoring their nests to be ready for the birth of their babies.
Among the phenomenon that periodically happen, (usually in Spring and Autumn) we can list high water. After abundant rains, the lake level rises and its water overflows invading the promenade, reaching the buildings. The ancient houses are strong enough and well built to resist: their entries are located in the internal alleys, on a higher level respect to the lake side, so that water cannot enter. The abundant rains carry into the lake trunks that float on the water among large spots of vegetation transported by the torrents. This phenomenon represents a problem for the navigation but for the inhabitants it is a precious resource: the buzza (the local name for the wood transported from the water) is stored and dried at the sun and is used during the winter as combustible (note that the natural gas arrived on the island only in 2002.).
FEASTS AND TRADITIONS
The inhabitants still maintains some traditional feasts. The most famous is the one organized at Ferragosto (15th August) that ends at night with the illuminated fishing boats’ procession, carrying the statue of the Holy Mary all around the Island. The previous evening, at the coda a big balefire lights up the night. At Carnival everybody meet on the lake side, to taste a good polenta and a glass of wine. On Epiphany eve, children are busy in wake up the Befana with the cargavegia: they run all around the Island dragging behind them, tied on a rope, cans, pots, covers and everything that can make noise.
It is really suggestive seeing the Island covered in snow. Unfortunately, it is quite rare: it is possible just for few days a year.
As all islands, also our little Island is exposed to the winds.
On the lake, winds have their names according to their origin:
Mergozzo blows from the near so called lake and beat the west coast.
Maggiore blows brashly from Switzerland on the East coast.
Inverna, blowing in the opposite sense of Mergozzo, ruffles gently the water and people say it bring good weather.
If you wish to have a bath or sunbathing, you can find a nice beach at the coda, the northern part where the island ends: you can relax under the threes or swim in the chilly water, even seeing some small fish!