As you may know, in Italy there are three gigantic lakes. Lake Maggiore comes second in everything: in size (smaller than Lake Garda) and in popularity (inferior to Lake Como).
While nothing can be done about the size of the lake, not too long-ago Maggiore did have an edge among many tourists.
As the inhabitants of Maggiore say with sarcastic bitterness: "George Clooney spoiled everything for us." In fact, ever since the arrival of Napoleon in 1797, their lake gained great popularity among European tourists. Well-advertised during the time of frequent trips to Italy by European and English travelers, Maggiore attracted tourists for its amazing climate: palm trees and citruses flourishing year-round against the snow-covered Alps. Further, Maggiore’s convenience gave advantage to the incredible beauty of the landscapes: railway roads easily transported people to its Swiss part and Switzerland, to other parts of Italy, and to Milan. Later Malpensa airport was built within an hour’s reach by car.
Like everywhere in Italy, the surroundings of Maggiore are filled with historically significant structures, castles, palaces, villas, and flowering botanical gardens. In addition, anyone can visit the picturesque vineyards and taste the local - excellent - wines.
Nature lovers can go to the mountains to pursue endless hiking paths, and the views they can take in are simply breathtaking.
Oh, this Clooney! Did everyone forget about Hemingway, who lived for months in Stresa after he was injured and wrote his famous novel "Farewell to Arms" at the famous Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees? Some episodes of his book were directly taken from his own experience here!
And the world-famous conductor Arturo Toscanini – doesn’t he mean anything anymore? He has a summer residence here and gives concerts!
The hotel recently celebrated its 150th birthday. My next blog will be dedicated to this enchanting place. After spending three days and three nights there and having studied it thoroughly enough from the outside and from the inside, I fell in love. I was also able to visit an interesting multimedia exhibition devoted to the memorable date. Among other things, I watched a video about famous people who stayed at this hotel. So, I can report: Charlie Chaplin, various European princes and princesses, and politicians of all denominations stayed here. Sylvester Stallone agreed to take photos here with anyone who asked and wrote a warm review. But capricious Clooney simply wrote: "Thank you very much. G. Clooney" - and did not leave any photos. How to move on from this?
I didn’t grow up on a lake, and it's hard to honestly judge which one I like the best. But I probably lean toward Maggiore. And here is why:
- Well, for starters, Clooney’s opinion does not really count:)
- I really like the town of Stresa. It is charming, cozy, it has a lot to offer, including a wonderful promenade along the lake, delicious gelato, shops where you can find interesting goodies, and, of course, a variety of restaurants.
- In Stresa everyone knows each other, and on the second day you already understand that everyone will also recognize you and rejoice when meeting you. Overall people are really friendly.
The other day I saw some very beautiful Easter eggs in the window of a pastry shop. So, I tried to take some photos of them. But…how can you take a good picture of a window display? You guessed it, it’s not easy! The owner of the pastry shop, on seeing my frustration, invited me inside so that I could take good pictures. And he was so pleased that I liked it.
Another time I came to look for a necklace in a souvenir shop, to find a replacement of my favorite one that recently broke. I find that when I need to find something very specific, I never can. The owners of the store, a grandmother and her two granddaughters, tried so hard to help me. They pulled out everything that they had, laid it out on the counter, searched, looked more, sighed in sympathy. Unfortunately, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but they spent a lot of time with me. And not one of them tightened her lips in annoyance! They simply praised my Italian, wished me a happy Easter - that's all.
- During the summer months, all of Stresa turns into a music festival – with music of every genre!
- In close proximity, are the famous Borromean islands which belong to the noble and historic family Borromeo. Here, you can admire beauty of parks and palaces, art, history, architecture, and graceful white peacocks. And many other beautiful birds.
- There is also an excellent funicular that brings you to the mountains – where you can experience another climatic zone.
- And the boat cruises along the lake!
- And the enormous beautiful botanical garden at Villa Taranto!
- And the private luxury of the hotels in the neighboring Baveno!
There is also a famous medieval fortress Angera, which also belongs to the Borromeos. I can only imagine what incredible weddings and other celebrations can be arranged there! In addition, one can also see an astonishing collection of dolls – which is one of the biggest in the world!
I highly recommend going and see for yourself!
If there is time, it is also very easy to get to Milan to spend a day in museums or shops. Or to Switzerland by train (and there is, incidentally, a special "sightseeing" train).
There are many interesting and varied attractions around the lake to satisfy everyone’s taste.
We spent several absolutely perfect days here. And it was a little awkward for us to divulge to our hosts that our next stop is Como, the rival.
But this does not diminish my affection for the wonderful Lago Maggiore!
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