← Back

The jewels of Lake Maggiore

In the land of the Borromeo family, on the shores of Italy's second largest lake.

The jewels of Lake Maggiore

The Borromeo islands are the subject of any number of postcards sent home to friends and family by holiday makers visiting Lake Maggiore, one of Italy's major alpine lakes. Our exploration of the islands and the many fascinating sites located on the shores of this enormous basin or water commences with a visit to the town of Verbania.

Also known as the Garden on Lake Maggiore, Verbania boasts numerous parks overlooking the water. Perhaps the most beautiful is that of Villa Taranto, home to an exceptional number of botanical species. The Park is best visited in late spring when the plants are in full bloom. Another gorgeous lakeside garden can be found in the vicinity of the Church of San Remigio. Whilst in the area, visitors should be sure not to miss the Church of the Madonna di Campagna, the bell tower of which, rebuilt in the 16th century, is of Romanesque origin.

From Verbania, we travel southbound to Baveno. This is where to find the quarries of pink granite from which enormous quantities of stone were taken and used in the construction of the Cathedral of Milan. Baveno acquired its status as popular tourist destination in the early 20th century, as testified by the landing wharf and numerous villas in Art Nouveau style. From the flight of steps leading down to the lake, a magnificent view of the Church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio can be seen. In addition to the church, this monumental complex is comprised of a baptistery, rectory and 19th century portico.

We make our next stop at Stresa, the elegant villas of which have been graced by the presence of many an illustrious personage, from Queen Margaret to Stendal and Hemingway. Not to be missed, the Parish Church of Sant'Ambrogio and Villa Ducale, this latter now used as a research center dedicated to the philosopher Antonio Rosmini who lived here up until his death in 1855. From the park surrounding Villa Pallavicino the view of the Bay of Borromeo is truly exceptional.

No visit to Stresa is complete without having first taken a boat trip to the Borromeo islands. The Isola Bella more than lives up to its name, with its splendid Palazzo Borromeo and the extensive gardens which seem to occupy the entire island. Another ancient residence belonging to Lake Maggiore's most influential family is situated on Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromeo islands. The Isola dei Pescatori is less aristocratic, but just as picturesque.

Back on the main land, we move in the direction of Arona. Before arriving at this other well known tourist destination, it is well worth making a couple of stops, at Belgirate, which attracts visitors with its beautiful Villa Carlotta, and at Lesa, where to find another historic residence. Lesa's Villa Stampa has been transformed in Museum, documenting the period when the writer Manzoni resided in the area. The 18th century Parish Church of San Martino merits a visit too, as does the Villa Farragiana: an attractive edifice in the tiny lakeside village of Meina.

This journey along the Piedmont side of Lake Maggiore draws to a close in Arona, birth town of Saint Carlo Borromeo, in whose memory an enormous 35 meter high bronze statue has been erected. Whilst all but a few ruins remain of Arona's Borromea Castle, in the center of the town a number of ancient religious edifices have survived the passage of time intact: buildings such as the Collegiate Church, the Church of the Santissimi Martiri and the 17th century Church of the Madonna di Loreto.

Itineraries

Most popular

Hotels in the area

0.00 Km

Casali della Cisterna

Belgirate

0.00 Km

Grand Hotel Dino

Baveno

0.00 Km

Hotel Splendid

Baveno (Lago Maggiore)

0.00 Km

Grand Hotel Bristol

Stresa

0.00 Km

Villa Crespi

Orta San Giulio

0.00 Km

Villa Claudia Dal Pozzo

Belgirate

0.00 Km

Villa e Palazzo Aminta

Stresa

0.00 Km

Hotel Simplon

Baveno (Lago Maggiore)

Useful links
Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta (all hotels)
Stresa Hotels
Verbania Hotels
Belgirate Hotels