Borromean Islands, Isola Bella,
Isola Madre, Leggiuno,
Lake Maggiore is one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy.
Set in the heart of the pre-Alps, its shores border Lombardy, Piedmont and Switzerland. The 11 islands of Lake Maggiore, are among the many beauties of this lake. The most fascinating are undoubtedly the Borromean Islands.
Loved by Ernest Hemingway and the British royalty, this archipelago is made up of the monumental Isola Bella, with its seventeenth-century Palazzo Borromeo, surrounded by scenic gardens, the picturesque Isola dei Pescatori, the Isola Madre, known for its botanical garden and the small island of San Giovanni overlooking Pallanza. Also fascinating are the three rocks called “Castelli di Cannero”. Beautiful villas and imposing fortresses and castles are located around the lake and its islands enriching the charm of this place. Lake Maggiore was in fact a favourite tourist resort for the noble Lombard families (for example, the Borromeos and the Visconti) who built sumptuous villas and gardens here. Palazzo Borromeo on Isola Madre and Isola Bella, the eighteenth-century Villa Ponti in Arona and Villa Treves in Belgirate, are just some of the very interesting villas. Villa Pallavicini in Stresa; Verbania also offers many beautiful villas such as Villa Giulia and Villa Taranto.
Nature lovers cannot help loving Lake Maggiore thanks to the many botanical gardens, including Villa Taranto, considered the most beautiful garden in the world, Alpinia garden overlooking the lake, the Camelia Park in Locarno and the amazing gardens on the islands.
Lake Maggiore is a natural paradise of rare beauty, perfect for hiking, biking or sailing.
Don’t miss one of the largest statues in the world located in Arona, more than 35 metres tall! Or take the cable car up to the Mottarone peak to enjoy the view.
The area is also a place full of spirituality; discover the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso in Leggiuno, the Sacro Monte of Ghiffa, a UNESCO World Heritage site or the sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso. Enchanting sceneries, and an enriching historical-artistic legacy render the Lake a truly magical place, so much so that it has been defined by French poet Montesquieu “the most beautiful place in the world”. The Lake Maggiore and the surrounding hinterland areas are renowned in Italy and abroad for a high quality cheese production. Speciality cured meats include the mortadella of the Ossola (under the protection of the Slow Food organisation), the cured ham and violini di capra (cured goat’s ham) of the Vigezzo Valley.
Excellent restaurants offer the opportunity to taste some of the area’s best fish dishes. The Lake also offers local speciality cakes and biscuits, such as the “Margheritine of Stresa”. At a short distance from Lake Maggiore there is a smaller but lovely lake, Lake Orta. It is considered one the most beautiful Italian lakes thanks to the tiny but precious island of San Giulio, reachable by boat from the ancient village of Orta. The island is dominated by the 12th-century Basilica di San Giulio, that alone make a trip to the island worthwhile.