Lake Maggiore Attractions Lago Maggiore
Regions: Lombardia and PiedmonteSituationLake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore), known to the Romans as Lacus Verbanus, lies in north Italy; the northern part of the lake, with the town of Locarno, is in Switzerland.
The distance between the southern tip of the lake and the town of Novara is about 30km/19mi.General informationLake Maggiore, with an area of 212 sq.km/82 sq.mi (length 65km/40mi, breadth 3-5km/2-3mi, greatest depth 372m/1,228ft), is the second largest of the north Italian lakes.SceneryLess intricately patterned than Lake Como and without the sheer rock faces of the northern part of Lake Garda, it nevertheless offers scenery of southern splendor which may lack the grandeur of the other lakes but is perhaps even more appealing. The east side belongs to Lombardy and the west side to Piedmont. The lake's principal tributaries are the Ticino and the Maggia to the north and the Toce on the west side. The river which flows out of the southern end is the Ticino. The northern part of the lake is enclosed by mountains, for the most part wooded, while towards the south the shores slope down to the plain of Lombardy. In clear weather the water in the northern part of the lake is green, in the southern part deep blue.ClimateThe climate is mild. From midnight until morning the tramontana blows, usually coming from the north; from midday until evening the inverna blows from the south. The trees of Lake Maggiore, like that of lakes Garda and Como, include numerous subtropical species: figs, olives and pomegranates flourish in the mild climate, and in August the myrtle blooms. On the Borromean Islands lemons, oranges, cork-oaks, sago-palms and carob-trees grow.TourismThe most popular tourist areas are around Locarno and on the western arm of the lake between Pallanza and Stresa, where the magnificent Borromean Islands with their subtropical parks are the main attraction.IspraNear the east side of the lake, at Ispra, is the first Italian atomic research center, now a Euratom research center, with an atomic reactor (1959) and a tower 120m/396ft high belonging to a meteorological station.Boat servicesAnother very worth-while excursion is a boat trip on the lake (services throughout the year). The boats ply between Locarno and Arona (also hydrofoil services), calling alternately at places on the west and east sides; between Cannobio and Stresa, and between Verbania and Stresa. There are also car ferry services.Visitors cannot miss the Colossus of St Carlo Borromeo. This is a gigantic copper statue, erected in 1697, after a drawing by G.B. Crespi, also known as Cerano. The statue is located on a hill overlooking the town of Arona and measures 33m/108ft in height. Up to six people can fit into its head alone and one has a marvelous view from its eyes.
On the west side of Lake Maggiore, beautifully situated near the Borromean Islands, lies Verbania (205m/677ft; pop. 32,000), a town formed by the amalgamation of Pallanza and Intra together with other adjoining villages. It attracts large numbers of visitors with its mild climate and beautiful scenery.Verbania is also home to the Landscape Museum, which is located in the 16th - 17th century Viani Dugnani Palace. Its halls contain a pictorial section with paintings from the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
The district of Pallanza lies on both sides of the Punta della Castagnola (magnificent view from the park of the former Eden Palace Hotel). Just offshore, to the west, is the little island of San Giovanni. On the lakeside road is the Kursaal with its park (fine views). Beyond this, by the lake, is the mausoleum of General Cadorna (1850-1928), commander-in-chief of the Italian army during the First World War. To the north stands the parish church of San Leonardo (16th century restored). Farther west are the Palazzo di Città (Town Hall) and the landing-stage, from which there are good views of the Borromean Islands (with Isola Madre in the foreground) and Monte Mottarone.
Madonna di Campagna
At the foot of Monte Rosso (693m/2,287ft), the domed church of the Madonna di Campagna, contains frescoes by Lanino and the Procaccini.
Park of the Villa Taranto
On a hill 1km/0.75mi north of the Punta della Castagnola is the park of the Villa San Remigio (no admission) and nearby is the little Romanesque church of San Remigio (11th century). Immediately north is the magnificent park of the Villa Taranto, laid out after the Second World War, (open: April-October, good guide book, with plan; boat landing-stage), with botanical research laboratories and numerous rare and exotic plants.
Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, I-28922 Verbania, Italy
Opening hours: Mar 19 to Sep 30: 8:30am-6:30pm
Oct 1 to Nov 2: 8:30am-5pm
Oct 1 to Nov 2: 8:30am-5pm
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €9.00, Group discounts €7.00, Child 14 & under €5.50, Youth 21 & under €4.50, Child 5 & under FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Northeast of Pallanza, between the Torrente San Bernardino and the Torrente San Giovanni, is the industrial district of Intra, with the fine church of San Vittore. From here there is a car ferry across the lake to Laveno.
From Intra a panoramic road runs 13km/8mi north to the village of Premeno (840m/2,772ft), a summer holiday resort.
North of Intra rises Monte Zeda (2,157m/7,118ft; extensive views), which can be climbed in seven hours.
Cannero Riviera, Italy
About 13km/8mi northeast of Intra Cannero Riviera (226m/746ft) is beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Maggiore amid orchards and olive-groves. The climate here is the mildest on the lake, and lemon and orange trees can survive the winter in the open. There is also a beautiful beach.
Castelli di Cannero
North of Cannero Riviera, on rocky islets in the lake, are the ruins of the two Castelli di Cannero, built by Lodovico Borromeo in 1519 in place of earlier castles which had been held by brigands.
7km/4.5mi north of Cannero - on the west bank of Lake Maggiore - on a plateau at the mouth of the wide, cool Valle Cannobina, the old town of Cannobio (214m/706ft) has picturesque narrow streets. Notable are the Palazzo della Ragione (1291) and near the landing-stage the Santuario della Pietà, a Renaissance church in the manner of Bramante (on the high altar "Christ bearing the Cross" by Gaudenzio Ferrari, c. 1525).
On the west side of Lake Maggiore, south of its western arm, the little town of Stresa (210m/693ft; pop. 5,000) looks on to the Borromean Islands. Stresa is the largest resort on Lake Maggiore after Locarno. Cooler and windier than other places on the lake, it is busiest during the warmer part of the year. The long lakeside road affords beautiful views of the lake and the Borromean Islands. The life of Stresa centers on its lakeside promenade (fine views), on which are the parish church and most of the large hotels.
In Stresa you will find the Zoological Park of Villa Pallavicino abounding in century old trees and animated by numerous animal species roaming free.
Park of the Villa Pallavicino
About 1km/0.75 mi south of Stresa, above the landing-place, is the Collegio Rosmini (267m/881ft), an educational institution run by the Rosminians; in the church is the tomb of the priest and philosopher A. Rosmini (1797-1855). 500m/550yd farther on is the beautiful park of the Villa Pallavicino (closed in winter), with luxuriant vegetation and an interesting menagerie.
From Stresa a toll road, the Borromea (about 30km/19mi; also a cableway), runs up via Gignese (707m/2,333ft), with an unusual Umbrella Museum, to the summit of Monte Mottarone (1,491m/4,920ft), from which the view embraces the chain of the Alps from Monte Viso to Ortles, with Monte Rosa to the west (particularly fine in the morning).
Half-way up the Borromea, at the hamlet of Alpino (768m/2,534ft), a road branches off to the Giardino Alpinia (807m/2,663ft), 500m/550yd north, with some 2,000 species of plants (magnificent views).
Borromean Islands (Isola Bella)
From Stresa there is a very attractive boat trip to the Borromean Islands. The boat calls first at Isola Bella which owes its present appearance to Count Vitaliano Borromeo, who between 1650 and 1671 transformed what had been a barren rock, with a parish church and a few houses, by building up terraces of fertile soil and creating a splendid summer residence. The palace, left unfinished, contains magnificent state apartments, numerous pictures (including some good Lombard works of the 16th and 17th centuries) and a gallery of 17th century Flemish tapestries. The Italian-style garden (beautiful views), rises in ten terraces to a height of 32m/106ft and is covered with luxuriant southern vegetation - lemon and orange trees, cherry-laurels, cedars, magnolias, cork-oaks, sago-palms, carob-trees, camellias, oleanders, etc.
Isola dei Pescatori, Italy
Between the Isola dei Pescatori and Pallanza lies Isola Madre, which, like Isola Bella, belongs to the Borromeo family. It has beautiful English-style grounds surpassing even Isola Bella in the variety and luxuriance of their vegetation. On the highest point is an uninhabited palace (view).
About 4km/2.5mi northwest of Stresa is Baveno (205m/677ft), a popular resort, with a fine parish church. From the lakeside promenade there is a picturesque view of the lake with the Borromean Islands. At the southern end of the town stands the large Villa Branca with a beautiful park (no admission).
San Carlone, Meina, Italy
About 13km/8mi south of Stresa is Meina (214m/706ft), with the splendid Villa Farragiana (museum). An eminence south of the village - between Meina and Arona - is crowned by the "San Carlone", a 23m/76ft high statue of St Charles Borromeo (1538-84), Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan, who played an important part in the moral revival of Catholicism.
On the east side of Lake Maggiore, opposite the statue, is Angera, with an old Visconti castle (view).
From Stresa or Verbania there is an attractive drive (42 or 45km/26 or 28mi) first along the Lago di Mergozzo, a former arm of Lake Maggiore which was cut off by soil deposited by the River Toce, then continuing up the valley of the Toce to Domodossola (272m/898ft; pop. 20,000), a little hill town, with a pretty marketplace and a notable collegiate church with three naves portal with 15th century frescoes).
Anzasca Valley (Macugnaga)
Half-way to Domodossola a road goes off, passes through Piedimulera and continues up the Anzasca valley (gold-mines), the upper part of which has been occupied since the 13th century by German-speaking settlers from the Valais, to Macugnaga (1,327m/4,379ft), a holiday resort in a magnificent situation below the east face of Monte Rosa.
Umbrella and Parasol Museum, Gignese, Italy
The town of Gignese is home to the Umbrella and Parasol Museum. There you will find a rare collection of umbrellas and parasols dating back to the 18th century, as well as the tools used by umbrella makers.