The jewels of Lake Maggiore
In the land of the Borromeo family, on the shores of Italy's second largest lake.
Our exploration of the Piedmont side of this pre-alpine lake commences in Arona. From here numerous boats depart, transporting visitors around the Basso Lago Maggiore, but before embarking, it's well worth taking the time to have a look around the town, town which contains numerous traces of the presence the Borromeo family.
Around and about Arona
The Rocca Borromea, of which but a few ruins remain, is a reminder of Arona's past strategic importance.
The town's most striking sight, if only for its colossal dimensions, has to be the 35 meter high bronze statue of the Arona-born saint, San Carlo Borromeo.
Not to be missed, in the center of town, the Collegiate Church, the Church of the Santissimi Martiri and the 17th century Church of the Madonna of Loreto.
Our journey continues via the enchanting town of Meina, with its splendid aristocratic residences, most impressive of which is the Neoclassical Villa Faraggiana.
It is well worth stopping off in the small village of Lesa, where to visit the 18th century Church of San Martino and the Manzoni Museum, this latter housed within Villa Stampa, where the celebrated author of "The Betrothed"' once resided
The sumptuous Villa Carlotta is the true jewel of Beligrate, and our last stop prior to arriving in Stresa.
Strolling through Stresa
Stresa is famous for its elegant Liberty style villas, many of which now transformed in luxury hotels.
Taking pride of place in the center of town, there is the Church of Sant Ambrogio, in which to observe some of the finest works of the 17th century Lombard school.
From the Park of Villa Pallavicino, a breathtaking view of the Borromeo gulf and the islands of Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori can be seen.
Lake Maggiore island-hopping
Isola Bella is dominated by the Baroque masterpiece of Palazzo Borromeo and its terraced Italian garden.
Isola Madre, the largest of the islands, is also home to an impressive residence belonging to the Borromeo family.
The picturesque Isola dei Pescatori owes its name (Fishermen's island) to the principal profession of its inhabitants.
Back to Baveno
Baveno might be less famous than other lakeside towns but, with its red granite caves, it is just as stunning.
Built in the 12th century, and subject of various alterations, the Church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio, features a Romanesque bell tower, baptistery and 18th century portico: a stunning combination of styles, particularly impressive when observed from the flight of steps which, from the road, leads to the lake.
An elegant embarcadero and various villas in art nouveau style are a reminder of how, from the 19th century onwards, Baveno developed in to important tourist destination
The garden on the Lake
Our journey draws to a close in Verbania. Known also as the Garden on Lake Maggiore, the town boasts a great number of parks and gardens, all of which enjoy breathtaking views of the lake.
One of the finest of these is that belonging to Villa Taranto, in which to observe an incredible variety of botanical plants.
In the center of Verbania there is the Church and Park of San Remigio, and the 16th century Church of the Madonna di Campagna, this latter built on the site of a pre-existing Romanesque edifice, of which the bell tower can still be seen.
Hotels in the area
Baveno (Lago Maggiore)
Orta San Giulio
Baveno (Lago Maggiore)