Straddling the border between Piedmont and Lombardy, with the northern-most part in the Ticino canton, Lake Maggiore is one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, a real historic and landscape treasure. This territory is full of attractions that merit exploration to discover hidden aspects and beauty.
Lake Maggiore is, above all, a lively territory where history and traditions are still handed down. This makes the mountain villages and the shore towns the ideal destinations for a unique travel experience. Great satisfactions are also available for sports lovers both in the water – sailing, canoeing, water-skiing and scuba diving – and in the surroundings from the shores upward – with trekking, mountain biking and equitation. All is set in a natural landscape of rare beauty.
The mountains that surround Lake Maggiore in the north act as a shield, making the climate milder and the surrounding hills and valleys one of the greenest areas on the Italian peninsula. Visitors can admire an impetuous natural landscape, the setting for hermitages, sanctuaries and castles facing the great basin of the lake also known by the name of Verbano, from many panoramic view points.
The eastern shores of the lake belong to the province of Varese, a city of Lombardy that offers a variety of cultural attractions such as the Masnago Castle and Villa Mirabello. Other treasures on the shores of Lombardy include the Rocca of Angera and the hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso [St Catherine of the Rock].
The lower lake, in Piedmont, includes the stretch from Belgirate to Castelletto Ticino, the ideal destination for lovers of art and culture. In Belgirate, visit the ancient Church of Santa Maria [St Mary] and follow the panoramic road to Massino Visconti where the San Salvatore sanctuary stands. Among the villas and historic residences of the territory, Villa Correnti in Lesa and Villa Faraggiana in Meina are of particular interest. Arona is situated at the extremity of the lake and its history is linked to that of the Borromeo family as witnessed by the colossal statue of San Carlo Borromeo (St Charles Borromeo). It is 36 metres high and covered with sheets of copper plate. Have a close look, because there is a surprise for you: the shell of masonry and metal hides an internal stairway that you must climb up to the head, where you will be rewarded with a fine view of the lake.
Further north on the western shore, the area of the Borromeo Gulf extends from Verbania to Stresa. This is where you will find the attractions that make the lake so famous around the world, such as the Borromean islands, Baveno and Stresa, all dotted with majestic villas of the aristocracy and Verbania, the location of Villa Taranto, so famous for its spectacular gardens. What is there, on the other hand, for lovers of uncontaminated nature? There is the Val Grande National Park, the largest wilderness area in the Alpine mountain range.
Finally, the upper lake is dotted with other picture-perfect towns such as Cannobio and Cannero that overlook the castles of Cannero. Other musts are a visit to the unusual Museum of the Ghiffa Chapel and an excursion to the Sacred Mount of the Holy Trinity, UNESCO world heritage on Piedmont territory, together with the Sacred Mount of Orta and the Sacred Mount of Domodossola.