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Lake Maggiore and its Borromean Paradise

In a letter to his parents in 1918, Ernest Hemingway wrote, “I’m up here in Stresa, a little resort on Lake Maggiore. One of the most beautiful Italian lakes.” The beauty surrounding Hemingway acted as an inspiration for his novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’, in which he fictionalized his experiences during his stay on the shore of Lake Maggiore.

Though this was over a hundred years ago, Lake Maggiore’s beauty has continued to entrance its visitors, inviting all those who want to get lost in the charms of a natural paradise. Nestled between the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy with its shoreline extending into Switzerland, Lake Maggiore is dotted with mesmerizing little islands known as the Borromean Islands.

For centuries, Lake Maggiore was the destination where the aristocrats of Lombardy preferred to vacation. Owing to this, the Borromean Islands are home to magnificent gardens and villas that were built by members of the noble families as their vacation residences. We spent a day discovering the stunning gems that Lake Maggiore has to offer and it was truly an unforgettable experience.

Discovering the Lake’s Treasures

Isola Bella's gardens
Isola Bella’s gardens contain several exotic plants and stunning sculptures, all surrounded by lovely views of Lake Maggiore

We started our day visiting the pearl of Lake Maggiore: the magical lakeside town of Stresa. What caught our eye was not only the beautiful panoramic view of the lake and the Borromean Islands but also the Alps rising high in the distance.

Walking down the town’s lovely streets, one realizes  why a vacation in Stresa is considered the epitome of luxury travel. The streets lined with magnificent noble residences and luxury hotels emitted an aura that transported us back in time; it seemed that any moment we would come across a Lombardian aristocrat enjoying a little sunshine in their lovely, lush garden. After taking a stroll along the lakeside and admiring the dreamlike landscape, it was time to move on to our next destination.

As we stepped onto Isola Bella, it was impossible to imagine that the island was once just a rock inhabited by fishermen. Four hundred years of work under the Borromeos had turned Isola Bella into a paradise which is dominated not only by its architectural beauty but also by its natural landscape.

Walking through the beautifully-maintained gardens is a treat for the senses: the gardens offer a spectacular display of colorful flowers and plants combined with stunning statues and obelisks. To add to this lovely sight is the calming sound of water flowing from the fountains and the sweet smell of the flowers that surround us.

What else does Lake Maggiore offer?

Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori
Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori are two beautiful islands that are definitely worth a visit.

Isola Madre: The largest island of the archipelago, Isola Madre is where the magnificent Palazzo Borromeo is located. When visiting the palace, make sure to visit its Venetian drawing room that houses a puppet theater where the Borromeo family used to entertain their guests.

Isola dei Pescatori: It is the smallest island of the archipelago and the only one that is inhabited all year round. When visiting the island, it is definitely worth trying the local fish in one of the lakefront restaurants. If you are visiting in August, check out the procession of lighted boats that takes place on Ferragosto!

Returning to Rome

And so ends another of Marilena’s Italian excursions. Whilst her journey through Lake Maggiore is over, the area lays in wait for new explorers yearning to take in its unique charm. Through our strong connection of contacts in the region, Italy with Class can help tailor your very own vacation at Lake Maggiore or any other destination of your choosing. From luxury accommodations and wonderful restaurants to hidden gems and unforgettable experiences, we will make sure that you have an unforgettable experience. So, what are you waiting for?

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