No lake sparks one’s imagination more than Lago Maggiore. Since my childhood I hear from family how beautiful it must be and that’s how the question arose: Do we agree?
In the past, when it was still very special when you left the city limits, a great-aunt and great-uncle went to Lake Maggiore. How the journey went was never clear to us and certainly not how long they have done about it. She was called Aunt Kor. Yes, really with a K. The intention was to call her Cornelia at birth, but the official in Cologne who prepared the birth certificate recorded the German version Kornelia. She came to visit us regularly, especially when her husband had died. She had no children, and she enjoyed sharing her memories of that fantastic trip with us on a regular basis.
There was a book with postcards with beautiful views. Phenomenal images taken from the mountains that made the lake stand out perfectly; prints of boats crossing the lake and picturesque towns with palatial buildings. Furthermore, she had taken home some touristy stuff as an ashtray (yes, smoking was still hip then) and some other little odds and ends.
Aunt has passed away for quite some time now, but her fascination for that lake has certainly stayed with us.
Lago Maggiore, also called Lago Verbania, is the second largest lake in Italy and has a rich history. It is partly in Switzerland and partly in Italy.
Unhampered by further knowledge we proceeded quite impulsively. A few days before we would leave, we booked an Airbnb and later we booked an overnight hotel near the border triangle of Germany, France and Switzerland. Driving to Italy in one go would mean a journey of a thousand kilometers and we find that driving too far in one day. We like to experience the outward and return journey as a holiday. On the return trip we even arranged 2 nights about one day before we got there. One again near the three border triangle and one in the vicinity of Trier. Nice and easy on the way home without being on a racetrack all day long, because you have time to travel a bit touristy. We enjoyed the Rhine at the border triangle and Trier in the Moselle region, but what we enjoyed the most was the San Bernardino pass.
The snow-capped peaks gave shine to a fascinating mountain landscape. Our brother-in-law advised us on this route; he can do that more often! We went through the San Bernardino tunnel and then we drove along the “snail roads” to the apartment. During the return journey the pass was just open for one day, but the tunnel was closed because of a fire in a bus. Sad of course, but it made sure that it was very busy on a narrow road that goes up and down the pass. Because of this we could not make a stop now and then, but it was really phenomenal. We will not forget those images quickly!
When we drove to our apartment we took the road that runs close to the lake on the east side. It was a beautiful ride. The roads were often narrow and the villages picturesque. From “our” village we looked at the ruin of Arona, Rocco Borromeo.
During our stay we explored the southern half of the lake. The eastern side is less touristy, but it is busy everywhere and those Italians ride fast through the narrow streets, so you sometimes forgot to breathe, but they can hit the brakes like no other.
We visited Angera and Luino, among others, and Varese a bit away from the lake Varese, where we made a nice walk. It does not really have a big center, but we have had a great time and we have found some geocaches.
Slowly we began to explore the western side, which lies in Piedmont. Places such as Arona, Stresa and Pallanza we found beautiful, just like the views from different heights on the lake and the islands like Isola Bella and Isola Madre.
We had a wonderful week in Italy; Aunt Kor was right! It was our first real introduction to the country. We had never come further than an afternoon of Venice from one of us in the youth and a business day in Bergamo with a friend/businesswoman. We will visit the country again, if only for the delicious gelati!!!
Fino alla prossima volta, ciao!