How did we end up at Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore)
Lake Maggiore was not a familiar name to me. As we were making our way from an unheard Domodossola to Milan, we passed along a beautiful shimmering lake by train. It looked wonderful and we had no idea what this place is. All I knew was that the train stopped at a station named Stresa along the same route. A quick google map search told me that the lake is called Lake Maggiore and is one of the biggest lakes in Italy. I was surprised to know that all we hear about is Lake Garda and Lake Como in Italy. None of us ever heard about Lake Maggiore before.
We were seduced by the raw beauty and the unknown charm of the lake and hence decided to make the best of our return trip by stopping over here. Since we did not get the fast train tickets anyway and had to travel by regional trains (remember my story from the last post?), we had no other consideration to take care of. Blessing in disguise? Since spontaneity seemed to be the theme of our weekend trip to Milan, we went with the flow 😀
Later we found that Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the Italy and Switzerland. The lake has 3 islands in Italian side near Stresa: Isola Madre, Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori.
There are many ferry services between the island and the main land of Stresa and we decide to hop on and explore the islands. Because we did not want to just rush through everything but rather relax and enjoy, we decided to just go for two islands: Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Bella.
Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s island):
This island is also known as Isola Superiore and, with a population of 32, it is the only one to be inhabited all year round. Yes! 32! That is the scale I am talking about 😀 We just loved the feel of the place. Blue lake Maggiore shimmering with sunlight, tropical vibe and cobbled alleys all around. This place totally won us over.
We did ourselves a favor and had our last Italian meal of the weekend at this beautiful location. Sipping nice Italian wine and seeping the view in, we once again realized the beauty of each and every moment. The importance of the current moment.
Isola Bella (Beautiful Island)
It was the second and last island we visited on Lake Maggiore. The name justifies itself. The beautiful island is also home to palazzo that belongs to House of Borromeo. The palazzo is dedicated to Isabella D’Adda (Wife of Carlo III from Borromeo family) and hence the island is named so. I have to admit that I am not a palace/castle person. They all seem same to me. But this one was an exception. Why, you ask? Just have a look:
What stood out the most was the cobble-stoned shell grottoes in the lower floor of the palazzo. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed there. So no pics 🙁 ! But I definitely recommend a visit there. (Coming from someone who is not really into palaces, it should really mean something 🙂 )
There was a huge garden which was also part of the palazzo and it was spectacular. The sculptures, the art, the location and the maintenance together created a vibe that was unforgettable. We even spotted a white peacock and peahen there! First time for me.
If you liked Lago Maggiore, I am sure you will love Lake Lugano. This beautiful lake on the border of Switzerland and Italy.
And just like that, it was the time for our ferry and then the train back to Lausanne. This was one of the high points of our whole weekend trip. I will definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the chill vibe and does not want to be trapped in a crowded attraction. Come on! get up! and enjoy the place before it becomes the next hit of Europe. Make way for Lake Maggiore!
This was not our first trip to Italy (I have been to Milan, Rome, Domodossola) and it won’t be the last either. Nice people, chilled vibe and superlative food. Italy definitely is our one of the favorite European countries for holidays!
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So, now tell me, have you been to such spontaneous trip sometime? Where was it and how did you like it?
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