Among the many beauties of which the Piedmont region is rich, Lake Maggiore, one of the most important Italian lakes, certainly occupies a prominent place.
On its shores, there are real artistic and landscape treasures that absolutely deserve to be seen: islands, villas, gardens, palaces, attractions and much more.
Lake Maggiore is full of enchanting towns that directly overlook its waters and that can offer wonderful views and enchanting landscapes. Narrow alleys, old shops, cobblestone streets closed to traffic and walk on the lakefront surrounded by plants and flowers: treat yourself to a little relaxation or a stroll wandering aimlessly in these towns.
Stresa is the queen of Lake Maggiore: full of villas, beautiful parks and gardens rich in plants and colourful flowers, it is certainly one of the places not to be missed. Walking on the romantic lakefront of Stresa admiring the panorama of the Borromean Islands and the mountains is a truly extraordinary experience in every season.
In the middle of Lake Maggiore, there are several islands and islets. Among these is Isola Bella, the smallest of the Borromean Islands. On this enchanting island, you can admire the splendid botanical gardens full of plants, flowers and statues and the elegant Baroque palace built between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, with beautiful halls full of tapestries, paintings, furniture and much more.
Isola Madre is the largest of the islands in the archipelago. Here you can visit the Palazzo Borromeo, built-in 1500 and open to the public in 1978, full of magnificent furnishings and beautiful rooms such as the Venetian living room decorated with trompe l’oeil floral paintings. On the island, there are also a chapel and a beautiful English garden with many flowers and plants, which enjoys an incredible panorama of Lake Maggiore.
Isola Dei Pescatori is the smallest of the Borromean Islands and is also the only one to be inhabited throughout the year. The islet houses a village with a small square enclosed by narrow alleys that lead to the walk on the northern tip of the island. In the numerous lake view taverns, you can enjoy the local gastronomy.
The Alpinia Garden is one of the largest botanical parks in the Alps. Located in Alpino, a hamlet of the Municipality of Stresa at an altitude of 800 meters, the park is easily accessible by cable car. From the garden, you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Maggiore: a real natural balcony where you can relax enjoying a wonderful landscape on the lake and the Borromean Islands. In the path, there is a source of pure natural water from the Mottarone peak.
In the north-west part of Lake Maggiore, in Pallanza, there are the gardens of Villa Taranto, certain-ly one of the most beautiful attractions in Piedmont. The garden is a real work of art with thousands of plants and flowers from all over the world. Some specimens are very rare and embellish this “botanical art gallery” which, every spring/summer, offers a unique and suggestive show. The gardens of Villa Taranto cover an area of 16 hectares considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, whose origins can be traced back to 1931. Here we find about 1000 non-native plants and about 20,000 varieties of considerable botanical interest.
Instead, in the southern part of the lake, on the Piedmont side, there is the town of Arona, with the famous Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo, an imposing statue 35 meters high, built-in 1698 in honour of Carlo Borromeo, one of the most known archbishops of Milan, born in Arona. The Sancarlone, as it is nicknamed, was for some time the tallest statue in the world and still remains, among the statues that can be visited inside, second in height only to the Statue of Liberty. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that it is possible to climb inside via a staircase that will take you to the head where you can enjoy a magical view of the lake through the holes in the eyes, nostrils and ears.
On the lake, there are also many interesting museum sites, including the Umbrella and Parasol Museum in Gignese, unique in its kind.