The sinuous Lake Maggiore attracts thousands of tourists, nature lovers and adventure seekers from across the globe every year for the breath-taking and sublime experience it has to offer. The lake’s beauty has inspired many writers and artists who frequent the destination and are left awe-stricken by its pristine and impressive landscape. As a matter of fact, Ernest Hemingway once remarked during his stay here, "I'm up here at Stresa a little resort on Lake Maggiore one of the most beautiful of the Italian Lakes."
Spread over an area of 212 square kilometres on the South side of the Alps, the 66-kilometer long glacial lake which is shared with Northern Italy and Switzerland defies all attempts to define its beauty in words. In Italy, the lake is shared by Piedmont and Lombardy regions. These provinces comprise of towns with lake views and an archipelago of 11 islands of which 9 are in Italy. One of the most popular things to do when you are here is to take a boat ride on the lake and enjoy the picturesque landscape from various vantage points. However, to get the best views it is highly recommended that guests take the Stresa-Alpino-Mottarone cable cars. From a height of 1500 meters, one can see all the seven lakes from here on a clear day. Though the peak seasons are between June and October, the mild climate during all seasons makes it a perfect and comfortable destination to enjoy nature’s beauty all year round.
Some of the rarest and exotic variety of flora and fauna can be found in the towns and islands which enhance the scenery and make it nothing less than an incredible visual treat. The area delights the visitors with numerous Alpinia gardens and zoological parks. The climate is ideal for lush and luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation which makes it a perfect destination for some of the scenically most beautiful walking and hiking trails. In the adjoining towns, the cobbled streets and narrow lanes are lined up by colourful buildings. These alleys and lanes lead to the beaches where visitors can take a stroll.
The towns are home to villas that narrate a story of fascinating baroque-style architecture, colourful buildings and palazzi constructed as early as the 17th century, tombs that predate the Roman period, and churches and chapels which provide historical and religious context to the place. Tourists can also enjoy shopping at the open-air markets and binge on the most scrumptious of dishes in the restaurants that dot the lanes. Some of the towns also have bars on the beaches for the guests to enjoy a drink or gelato.
The archipelago, especially the Borromean islands, is very popular among tourists for a variety of reasons. In fact, for many tourists, visiting these islands is one of the most important reasons that bring them here. Isola Bella’s unique vessel-like shape and the 17th century Borromeo Palace with its lovely Italian gardens draws a lot of tourists. Visitors also love to explore Isola Madre’s year-round exotic vegetation and stopover at the picturesque Isola dei Pescatori for shopping and luxurious lunch.
The island welcomes those looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation, outdoor and nature enthusiasts and art connoisseurs. It is ideal for sightseeing excursions, for a tour of majestic buildings of historical importance, shopping in the local markets and dining to your heart’s content. The outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy some of the best walking and hiking trails ensconced between lush Mediterranean gardens. The destination also promises some of the best opportunities to enjoy water sports, such as canoeing, surfing and kayaking.
Belgirate is a small peaceful town located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, only a few kilometers to the south of Stresa. The old town is home to numerous majestic villas, mostly built during the 19th century, which give a unique historical flavour to it. These villas are encircled by abundant gardens which enrich the aesthetic quality of these buildings.
The town also boasts of some of the best hiking routes in the area, thanks to its lush landscape, most notably birch and beech trees. Belgirate also provides numerous opportunities to enjoy other sports, such as horse-riding, golfing and serves as a wonderful site for various water sports.
The small shops on its streets on the waterfront give a unique characteristic to the town.
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore, Oggebbio is the perfect destination for a peaceful retreat. The town is specifically popular for its chestnut groves on the slopes of Monte Morissolo which is known to have inspired a number of poets who have memorialized it in their lyrics.
The town also offers some of the best walking trails offering a panoramic view of the landscape. The terraced vineyards and majestic villas which harmoniously blend with the scenery add to the beauty of the place.
Baveno is a small lakeside town, only a couple of miles from Stresa on the west shore of Lake Maggiore. The town which has hosted personalities like Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria is popular for its pleasant and aesthetically appealing landscape which sets the scene for the perfect romantic getaway.
The town is also famous for its villas and church. In fact, the Romanesque bell tower here dates 1050-1075 AD and is six storeys high. The Parish Church of St. Gervasio and St. Protasio are some of the better known monuments that are worth a visit.
Lesa is a lakeside village located between Belgirate and Meina. The town enjoys popularity among visitors and has its own share of celebrities to boast of, such as Alessandro Manzoni and Count of Cavour Camillo Benso.
A number of villas adorn the town. Some of the worth mentioning ones are Villa Lesa and Solcio which are located along the shores while Villa Noseda is considered the best of them all.
Meina is home to some of the best 19th century villas and interesting churches in the region. The exhaustive list of villas here includes Villa Eden, Villa Faraggiana, Villa Pasta , Palazzo Bedone, Villa Bonomi and Villa Faraone. Church of Santa Margherita with its interesting frescoes and the 19th-century Church of San Rocco are also worth a visit.
The grandeur of the place set against the beautiful blue lake makes for a unique and interesting sight. It wouldn’t be any exaggeration to say that the entire town is actually a sequence of villas and gardens set one after another. Some of the other interesting places and things to see here are the fine old trees, zoological museums, the collections of artefacts and paintings in the villas.
Verbania is also known as a garden on the lake.The city is known among tourists for its gardens and parks which form an indispensable part of the formidable villas, most of them built during the 19th century or before. The most notable among these is Villa Taranto which is spread over an area of 16 hectares. The colourful flowers and exotic plants here produce one of the rarest displays of beauty and harmony. Like other towns on the shore of Lake Maggiore, Verbania also boasts of parks and groves. Visitors often spend hours taking a luxurious stroll around the shore and the lush Mediterranean gardens.
At the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore, Ispra, now mostly known for the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, has its fair share of monuments which bring tourists and visitors to its shore. The town is known for its altars, urns and tombstones with Latin inscriptions.
The seven beautiful churches built during the 12th century are a sight to behold and are very popular among visitors here. However, the commune is of particular interest for those looking for a peaceful and relaxing vacation. The town remains a favourite among visitors for the promenade facing the lake.
Germignaga, a town in the province of Lombardy and very close to the Swiss border makes a perfect destination for a retreat with natural scenery. The place is also a perfect site for bird watching. The town has many churches and buildings of historical importance built overlooking the lake and surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation. Some of the notable ones include Church of San Giovanni, San Rocco and San Carlo.
The town comes alive during the summer when it hosts a number of festivals, concerts and recreational events.
Once famous for Italian pottery, Laveno like other towns on the shore of Lake Maggiore is now a major tourist hub. Monuments and buildings in this area boast of exquisite architecture and remind one of a bygone area.
Set against the backdrop of high mountains covered with greenery and the lake in the front, the town is nothing less than a paradise for tourists looking to spend some time close to nature.
Maccagno, a small town in the province of Lombardy, is located on the shore of Lake Maggiore. The town is an interesting mix of modern and old architecture which allows it a uniqueness missing in other regions in the vicinity.