Once in a while you want to be mesmerized. That happens if you decide to take a trip to Italy, which has the top tourist attractions. If Lake Maggiore is your first impression of Italy, you might want to know that you are in for a treat. Lake Maggiore is considered to be a wonderful star, an incursion of water, between two main mountains, Stresa and Verbina.
A vacation in Lake Maggiore represents a very wonderful mixture of relaxation and culture, with enchanting and breathtaking views that allows you to experience the feeling of the belle époque. The secret of this lovely region lies in the unique beauty of the environment, being a wonderful contrast created by the lake and the very steep mountains.
The thickly wooded mountains are presenting a very dramatic impression, while passing through several picturesque lakeside townships that have gained their shape between the mountains and the lake. A lot of fascinating ruins can be spotted from Lake Maggiore, as well as a lot of miniature oasis of tradition in the small villages built directly into the nearby rocks of the mountains. The spectacular fact is that all these attractions have remained unchanged for centuries. The Valle Cannobina connects the Val Vigenzzo with Lake Maggiore and offers the best options for excursions or rambling.
Lake Maggiore is 54 km long, with a coastline of over 150 km. Like all the other Northern Italian lakes it is a deep glacial basin fed by rivers; Verzasca, Giona, and Cannobino flow into the lake. Its major outlet is the Ticino which, in turn, joins the river in the south-east of Pavia. Piedmont and Lombardy are two major regions surrounding the Lake but the most northerly section of Lake Maggiore extends a dozen kilometres into Switzerland, the lowest point above sea-level in Switzerland. The climate as with all these protected lakes is mild in both summer and winter, producing lush vegetation, with beautifully planted gardens, growing rare and exotic plants.
Like all the lakes in the region, Lake Maggiore must be explored by boat. You can hire your own or even jump on a tour or you can choose a ferry which will help you discover the entire region from east to west and from north to south. Besides exploring the built-up areas, the natural landscapes have a huge amount to offer. You don’t have to spend your whole time on the water as you can hike, mountain bike and go horse riding. And because you are in Italy, taste the wine and the cheese, get some cooking lessons and enjoy as much as you can La Bella Vita!
There is a wide selection of different activities and things to do, that one should never miss:
This must be your number one attraction. It is a truly enchanting sight, set in the foothills of the majestic Alps; the clear waters and the size are perfect for visitors looking out for boat rides and numerous water sports. A simple stroll, or a boat ride to visit Borromeo islands or the Monastery of Santa Caterina, will provide to you intense emotions that will always make you remember your stay at the Lake Maggiore. In the warmer seasons you can even sunbathe on well-equipped beaches, swim or try your hand at various water sports.
The parks and the gardens
The area around Lake Maggiore will provide to you the chance of exploring more than 300 square kilometres of protected natural parks. The entire area is famous for its production of plants such as camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas which are growing here thanks to the temperate-humid climate, to the soil and thanks to 150 years of experience.
The sports that can be practised here
On Lake Maggiore you can practise with qualified instructors the following sports: canoeing, sailing, kite surfing, catamaran, swimming, skin-diving, kayaking, rafting, delta-planning, gliding, horse-riding, golf, cycling, mountain biking, ski touring and cross-country skiing.
At the end of an extreme day, you can choose a relaxing atmosphere of a spa, with water treatments.
The beautiful art
All the art lovers will discover a lot of treasures on the lake, which can be consider on one hand a very romantic gateway or a break with friends or even with the entire family. Here are a few attractions that one must take into consideration:
- The Borromee Islands – situated in the centre of the lake, here you can find out more about the seventeenth century residence of the historic Borromeo family, owners of the island, with splendid Italian gardens, maintained to perfection.
- The Rocca Borromeo di Angera – here you can admire splendid frescoes dating back to the 13th century that portrays the local history. The Rocca, which can also be accessed by boat, houses the largest doll museum in Europe.
- The Gignesse Umbrella and Parasol Museum – here are displayed objects dating from the 19th century to the present day.
The shopping spots
Shopping will always be a great and excellent way to get entertained. Lake Maggiore hosts some of the most well-known names in household articles, textiles and clothing. All the popular companies have outlets opened to the public, with incredible prices. So, feel free to buy the best Italian souvenir or to get impressed by marvellous objects.
The local cuisine
The food in Lake Maggiore is tasty and full of specialities. Of special note is ‘Caseifico Paltrinieri’ who produces wonderful Gorgonzola cheese ‘al naturale’, the Bettelmatt is also the local cheese as well as the Ossolano d’Alpe and the goat’s cheese Formagella of Luino. Do not miss the Mortadella of Ossola and other salami. The Gordon fish is served in the restaurants on the lake and it is part of the local typical menu.
The typical cakes of Lake Maggiore are the Fugacine, similar to the finger butter cookies, and the delicious pastry biscuits called Margheritine of Stresa, created in the honor of the Princess Margherita di Savoia.
The fishing areas
If you want to explore the most amazing sceneries and to relax in a peaceful atmosphere, fishing might be an excellent choice once you get the chance to discover Lake Maggiore. Fishing here is available by boat or on the shore, depending on the weather. Guests are expected to have their own assurance, but also a fishing license. If you are addicted to fishing and this is your hobby you can try a three day trip which includes the equipment, the transport, the lunch and it will also provide your local license. You will be advised where to go fishing, depending on your skills and your fitness level.
A full fishing day will offer you the chance to discover spectacular sceneries.
Walking and hiking
It is said that hiking is like a cup of tie. Start with the Eastern side of the lake, Val Veddasca is ideal for walking. It includes the Passo della Forcora, where you will find tracks and paths for excursions of various levels of difficulty surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. There are many paths you can use to hike through the valleys, choosing them based on their level of difficulty and whether you are going alone or taking your family with you.
Whatever your choice of Lake Maggiore hiking routes, however, you can be sure that you will be surrounded by nature. Val Veddasca is rich in vegetation and trees-beeches, birches, rhododendrons, hazel trees, chestnuts, cherry trees and even limes trees. Bears and wolves used to live in this area, while today it’s possible to meet foxes and squirrels.
The Lake Maggiore Express
The Lake Maggiore Express offers an unforgettable train and boat trip. The journey can be joined at various locations. The excursion takes you not only through Italy but also through the Ticino region in the southern part of Switzerland. For one hour and a half, the Centovalli and Valle Vigezzo railways take you through wild and romantic sceneries, punctuated by vertiginous bridges, streams of the purest water, vineyards, chestnut woodlands and villages perched on steep slopes.
The three-hour boat trip across Lake Maggiore allows you to admire the Borromean islands, the castles of Cannero, the Brissago islands and the fascinating shorelines dotted with picturesque towns and villages. The excursion gives you the opportunity to visit not only quaint villages but also famous destinations like Stresa, Ascona and Locarno.
Italy is a beautiful dream that will keep returning to you for the rest of your life. Explore Lake Maggiore for the interesting history and for the way of life. Enjoy the food, the environment and the Italian attitude. You may have the Universe, but nothing compares with a trip to Italy.