It is said that it might be a little difficult not to fall in love with Italy. There is a moment in life when you discover that some places are even prettier than in dreams, and one of those moments is when you first set foot on the shores of Lake Maggiore, because the Italian Lakes are one of the most enchanting areas in Italy, offering spectacular views, pretty lakeside resorts and an abundance of places of cultural interest.
Lake Maggiore has attracted thousands of visitors during the years, for having wonderful views, immense natural beauty and a relaxed lifestyle. Imagine yourself sipping a fresh cocktail, while gazing at the backdrop of the mountain scenery reflecting on the tranquil waters.
Visiting Lake Maggiore means not only interacting with the beauty of the region, but also enjoying the flavours and tastes of the local food and the deliciousness of the traditional cuisine. It is no secret that the Italian cuisine has a diverse variety of gastronomic dishes, starting from fish to cheese and ending up with meat-based dishes. As long as you know the right places, you’ll be enjoying the best Italian food experiences.
It could be dinner, lunch or breakfast, but in any case, eating in Lake Maggiore is always a great experience. Even the most little towns on the lakeshore hide some very good restaurants that you should never miss.
Firstly, you cannot leave Sesto Calente if you haven’t tried the famous Raviolo of Sesto Calende, which is a local specialty of‚ La Casa della Pasta Fresca’.
In Agera you can try the traditional risotto with ossobuco at the restaurant ‘Vecchia Angera’ or, if you prefer fish, taste the super creative dishes of ‘Il Porto’.
While you drive up along the lakeshore, make a quick stop for a typical Italian Aperitivo exactly in front of the lake, at the restaurant called ‘Molo’. For a dinner with a breathtaking view choose terrace ‘Belvedere’.
If you find yourself in Ispra for breakfast, don’t miss the best of what Italians call “brioche” at San Gabriele bakery which is the most popular spot for having the best and the most unforgettable pastries in the region.
Here are the most popular places where you can eat in Lake Maggiore, with your family and friends
- Il Sole – Contemporary Italian restaurant in Ranco
After you relax along the waterfront, the main thing that you should do in Ranco is call by this fantastic restaurant, with its lake views, beautiful gardens and the best cooking. Some local critics consider it among the best in Italy. It’s difficult to choose: a Carpaccio of white asparagus with salmon or Ricotta and walnut ravioli with prawns? Or perhaps the heavenly light fritto misto (mixed fried fish and seafood)? Leave the thinking up to the staff and opt for one of the tasting menus. If you are here with your family, do not worry about the prices because you can choose doubles from 190 Euros J
- Casabella – Restaurant in Isola Superiore
The setting is bewitching – right by the shore – and the food is acclaimed. The admirably short menu might feature home-smoked beef with spinach, blanched squid with ricotta or perfectly cooked lake fish. Leave room for dessert; the pear cake with chocolate fondant is faultless.
- Grotto Sant’Anna – Restaurant in Cannabio
This Ticino-style grotto (traditional inn) overlooks the thundering gorge that is the Orrido di Sant’Anna. Granite tables and benches located under a thick-leafed pergola provide a ringside seat to this natural phenomenon. If you can take your eyes off the water, dig into a dish of trota al forno (oven-baked trout) or costolette di agnello al timo (lamb chops with thyme).
- Ristorante Il Vicoletto – Restaurant in Stresa
One of the most popular restaurants in Stresa, Il Vicoletto has a delectable regional menu including lake trout, wild asparagus, and traditional risotto with radicchio and Taleggio (cheese). The dining room is modestly elegant with bottle-lined dressers and linen-covered tables, while the local clientele speaks volumes in this tourist town. Reservations are essential, especially if you want to eat here with your family and friends.
- Ristorante Milano – Modern Italian Restaurant in Verbania
The setting is really hard to beat: Milano directly overlooks Pallanza’s minuscule horseshoe-shaped harbour (200m south of the ferry), with a scattering of tables sitting on the lakeside. It’s an idyllic spot to enjoy lake fish, local lamb and some innovative Italian cuisine, such as pigeon with paté and red-currant reduction.
- Osteria Castello – Restaurant in Verbania
Order a glass of wine from the vast selection; sample some ham; or tuck into the pasta or the lake fish of the day.
- L’Imbuto – Restaurant in Cannabio
Widely praised by locals, L’Imbuto is a modern, convivial lakeside restaurant that serves up creative, expertly prepared dishes that are an excellent way of discovering the best of the Italian food. Here you might want to try the creative antipasti like polpo con mozzarella, pomodorini e olive (octopus with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and olives) to ravioli alla trota(trout ravioli), costine di maiale (pork ribs) and the seafood-loaded spaghetti ai frutti di mare. Perfectly turned-out pizzas are also available.
- Lo Scalo – Modern Italian Restaurant in Cannobio
Cannobio’s best restaurant, Lo Scalo serves an Italian cuisine that is sophisticated and precise, featuring dishes such as a suckling pig with spring onions and black garlic, and ricotta and tomato gnocchi with clams. The two-course lunch (€25) and five-course menù degustazione (€55) are both great and delicious treats, which can be enjoyed at a table on the waterfront promenade.
- Taverna del Pittore – Restaurant in Arona
This is the most romantic restaurant which has a waterside terrace and views of the illuminated Rocca di Angera fortress. The refined food is fabulous, with squid, duck and octopus transformed into exquisitely arranged dishes featuring ravioli, broth, risotto and gnocchi. Besides the fine-dining quality, the atmosphere is charmingly relaxed perfect for a night out in Lake Maggiore.
- La Botte – Restaurant in Stresa
Regional dishes are at the heart of this tiny business, so expect grilled lake fish, boar fillets and plenty of polenta (the version with sautéed mushrooms is absolutely delicious). The decor is that of an old-style osteria with dark timber furniture and decades of accumulated knick-knacks.
Wine and cheese in Lake Maggiore – the perfect combination for a one of a kind experience
The area around Lake Maggiore is renowned for its cheese and wine production – an ideal place for gourmands to sample this likely pair.
In the morning after breakfast, visit Arona for a lesson from a cheese artisan in a cheese seasoning grotto to learn how to pair Italian cheeses with salami, mustards, breads and wines, followed by a cooking class – lunch is when you will appreciate your creations! In the afternoon, take a boat excursion on Lake Maggiore, visiting the Borromean Islands and sailing around Isola Madre, including a tour of its formal gardens.
A unique gourmet experience – Cheese and Wine tour near Stresa
If you will get the chance to experience this lovely tower you will be delighted by the history of two Italian families who really show their deep love for particular products like the cheese and the wine.
The family of cheese refiners in Arona have been ageing cheese since 1876.
On the silent hills in the south of Lake of Orta you will find the vineyards that give the grapes for some unforgettable wines: Boca and Colline Novaresi.
The highlight of this tour is a visit to the cellars of cheese refiners in Arona, where Carlo, the fifth generation of a family completely devoted to cheese, selects and seasons artisan cheese in his company cellars that you will visit. A guided tasting of a selection of the over 300 different kind of Italian artisan cheese coupled with local wines will end the visit.
After a stop in Arona, on the south end of Lake Maggiore, to complete the day, dedicated to discover the food and wine traditions of this region, you will reach the hills in the south of the lake of Orta. Here you will be guided through a vineyard (unless the weather is very bad) and then pass to the cellars of a local winery. The day will end with a tasting of 3 local wines, accompanied by some cheese, bread and salami.
In order to experience this enchanting tour you will have to reach the meeting places in Arona, Stresa, Baveno, Verbania, Orta and San Giulio. The tour lasts almost 8 hours and the price for four persons is about 1000 Euros and the transportation is also included.
Italy inspires and moves like no other. Let yourself fascinated by this wonderful region and make your dream come true by visiting Lake Maggiore! J
Travel as much as you can in order to become a storyteller!