Lake Maggiore is one of the most beautiful Italian lakes and has enchanted the great Italian and foreign artists who have stayed here. It is believed to be the largest of the pre-Alpine lakes, hence the name "Maggiore", it is of glacial origin and its banks are in Lombardy, Piedmont and Switzerland. Surrounded by mountains and hills that shelter it from the cold northern winds, the lake has the Ticino River among its tributaries, a historic water route connecting the Po Valley to Central Europe.
The 11 islands, of which 8 are in Piedmont and 1 in Lombardy, are among the many beauties of this lake. The fascinating archipelago of the Borromean Islands including Isola Madre, Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori is set between Stresa and Verbania. The three rocks called Castles of Cannero with the remains of the Fortezza Vitaliana sought by Count Ludovico Borromeo are also interesting. Do not miss the island of La Malghera and the isle of Partegora and the beautiful isle of St. Giovanni in front of Verbania, where Arturo Toscanini lived for a long time in the seventeenth century Palazzo Borromeo.
Castles and Villas
Beautiful villas and imposing fortresses and castles are located around the lake and its islands and bear witness to the history and culture enriching the charm of this place: the Castello Visconteo of Locarno, the Rocca of Arona and the Rocca Borromea Angera which now houses a doll's museum. Palazzo Borromeo on Isola Madre and Isola Bella, the eighteenth-century Villa Ponti in Arona and Villa Treves in Belgirate, which hosted Gabriele D'Annunzio and Giovanni Verga among its guests, are just some of the very interesting villas. Villa Ducale and Villa Pallavicini with its zoological park are located in Stresa, whilst the splendid Verbania hosts many beautiful villas such as Villa Giulia and Villa Taranto and the nearby Villa San Remigio.
Botanical gardens, parks and nature reserves
Nature lovers will find Lake Maggiore the ideal place to spend their holidays thanks to the many botanical gardens, including Villa Taranto with more than a thousand plants, Alpinia extending over 40,000 sq.m., the Camelia Park in the Locarno and the gardens located in the various islands. There are also many natural reserves such as the National Park of Val Grande and the Natural Park of the Ticino Valley, a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Do not miss
In its location facing Lake Orta, the small town of Orta San Giulio is a one of the top destinations for tourists visiting the Verbano Cusio Ossola province.
A favourite place for romantic souls, the village is a maze of picturesque streets and narrow cobbled lanes, flanked by old stone walls with doorways topped with triangular architraves.
The little squares, reminiscent of the campielli of Venice, are enlivened by the presence of craft boutiques, antique shops and lively cafés.
One of the largest statues in the world located in Arona: the Colossus of St. Carlo Borromeo, more than 35 metres tall.
Taking the cable car from near Carciano up to both the Botanic Garden of Alpinia and the peak of Mottarone, a popular ski resort. Lake Maggiore is also a place full of spirituality, so we find the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso in Leggiuno, which may be reached via a steep staircase, while the Sacro Monte of Ghiffa, a UNESCO World Heritage site, lies along the slopes of Mount Cargiago and in Orsellina you can visit the sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso, dating from late fifteenth century.