DISCOVERING LAGO MAGGIORE
It would take volumes to name all the attractions that Lago Maggiore and the surrounding area have to offer, but to give you a taster, we have listed just a few.
One of the main highlights has to be the famous islands known as Isole Borromee, with their splendid Italian gardens and fine villas. These islands are easily reachable by ferry and located very close to Stresa. If you do happen to stop off in Stresa, you may also want to visit the Stresa-Alpino-Mottarone cablecar. This cable car gives you the chance to stop at Botanical Garden Alpinia and can take you up to the top of Mottarone, giving you a fantastic 360° view of the area. On clear days, it is possible to see all 7 lakes from the summit.
Not far from Stresa is Villa Taranto. Back in 1931 a Scottish Captain, Neil McEacharn, decided to buy the estate called "La Crocetta" from the Marquise of Sant'Elia and transform it into an English Garden. Each year, from the 25 of April to the 1st of May, there is an event called "The Feast of the Tulip", when all visitors have the potential to receive a free plant cultivated in the garden. Although the villa itself is not open to public, the gardens are open from April to October.
Also worth a visit is Santa Caterina del Sasso, a beautiful monastery close to Laveno. According to tradition the hermitage was founded by Alberto Besozzi, a rich local merchant who after having survived a heavy storm while crossing the lake decided to retreat to the rocky ledge to live the life of a hermit. These days the monastery is entrusted to the care of the Benedictine monks and contains some important well-kept frescoes dating from the XIVth to the XVlllth century.
One way to spend a great day is to experience the Lago Maggiore Express. This day trip sees you taking the boat from Luino to the Swiss towns of Ascona and Locarno, where you then take the 'Hundred Valley' train journey into the Swiss Alps, connect to Stresa and finally head back by boat to Luino.
The Ferrari Museum at Maranello will be a point of interest for any avid car fans. Although it is a substantial journey to get there, it's a must for those passionate about cars.
Other museums in the area include:
Maccagno's Museum of Modern Art, built across the river separating
Maccagno Superiore and Maccagno Inferiore
the Museo della Rurale Prealpina - an "eco-museum" which highlights the complex dynamics behind the interaction of human activity in a historical region
the European Museum of Transport - an open air park displaying the history of transport from the beginning of the XIX century to today
the Angera Museum of Archeology
the Contonal Museum of Natural History
Castello Viscontio - an archeological museum in the castle at Locarno.
Chimney Sweep Museum
Royal Italian Army Museum