Lakes and Islands of Piedmont: Between Sacred and Mundane
This tour offers a visit to the most evocative views of the bodies of water that mark the region: Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore with the offshoot of Lake Mergozzo. Reflected in their waters, the spiers of the bell towers and the facades of the noble buildings of picturesque historic villages make this region something to never forget.
These lakes offer an astonishing variety of artistic and scenic beauty, arousing a strong desire to return. On one side, the cozy and intimate Lake Orta with the San Giulio Island lying in front emanates a spirit of serene meditation and hosts one of the oldest cloistered convents. On the other side is the elegant and worldly Stresa, gateway to Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands. Arona, a refined town and birthplace of San Carlo, is the most illustrious exponent of the Borromeo family, Villa Taranto in Verbania is on the Piedmontese side of the Maggiore, a paradise of flowers and plants from every corner of the world and, further north, Cannero with the ancients manors lapped by waters surrounded by palm trees, orange trees, cedars, camellias, olive trees, lemons and azaleas. Finally, Cannobio hosts one of the most scenic lakeside promenades and suggestive medieval alleys that sink into the heart of the ancient village.
Best season : From March to late October/early November
Included / Not Included
Assistance upon arrival at the airport/station
Car rental with insurance
5 nights in a 3-star hotel/B&B (with accommodation in a double room)
Transfers (if chosen): by boat (Arona - Angera, Stresa - Borromean Islands, Orta - San Giulio Island) and by cable car (Mottarone)
Visits as scheduled (if chosen)
Directions and suggestions for best beaches
Travel accessories and telephone with Italian SIM
Directions and suggestions for best bars and restaurants
Telephone assistance in Italian, English, Spanish and French
Flights to/from your home city
Meals where not mentioned
Travel Insurance (strongly recommended)
Arrival at the airport/station where you will be greeted by an Italy Trails representative who will welcome you and give you the travel material.
You will be accompanied to the desk to collect the rental car and, after completing the bureaucratic formalities, you will leave for Arona, “The Queen of Verbano”.
After refreshing yourself in the hotel, and depending on your arrival time, you can go to the Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo, a 35 meter high statue dedicated to San Carlo, the most illustrious exponent of the Borromeo family, accessible with spiral and vertical stairs, from the top of which you can enjoy an incomparable view of the lake. Alternatively, you can decide to embark a boat for a short ride to reach the opposite side of the lake to visit the Rocca di Angera, a splendid medieval residence built on a spur of rock famous for its frescoed rooms, the ancient medieval garden, the Museum of Dolls and Toys and an enchanting view of the southern end of the lake.
When the sun goes down, you can take a quiet walk along the lakefront, characterized by a beautiful wisteria pergola, with the lights of the Rocca reflected on the water. Finally, you can stop in one of the characteristic places to enjoy a good aperitif or go directly to your first Italian dinner.
Night in a hotel
In the morning after breakfast at the hotel, you will leave for Stresa, an elegant holiday resort and the favorite residence of powerful families in the past such as the Borromeo and the Visconti families.
Along the road, just before the entrance to the city, you will encounter Villa Pallavicino, a perfect combination of a noble 19th century residence and a naturalistic and zoological park of 200,000 square meters which hosts 7 km of avenues adorned with hundreds of floral species, centuries-old plants and a wonderful botanical garden, all inhabited by 40 species of mammals and exotic birds.
You can then take a 20-minute journey on the Mottarone cable car to climb the mountain of the same name with a half-way stop at Alpinia, one of the largest botanical parks in the Alp. You will continue towards the top to reach a balcony from which you will enjoy a 360° view of 7 lakes and the immense circle of mountains dominated by Monte Rosa. You can also indulge in an adrenaline-pumping ride in Alpyland, a railed bobsled overlooking Lake Maggiore.
After going down to the valley, you can unwind with a walk along the lakefront and dedicate yourself to discovering the beauties of Stresa: the sumptuous Liberty Villas, largely transformed into luxury hotels, the flower gardens, the splendid parks and the beaches where you can relax and sunbathe. Check-in at hotel before or after the ascent to Mottarone.
Aperitif and/or dinner in one of the typical lakeside restaurants or in the alleys of the village.
Night in a hotel
In the morning after breakfast, you will board a boat to visit the elegant and sumptuous Borromean Islands, the place chosen by nobles and VIPs for their fairytale weddings. Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori will conquer you, each with unmissable scenic and artistic attractions.
Isola Bella which, in almost four hundred years of work by architects, engineers, plasterers, painters and cabinetmakers, has been transformed from a rock lapped by the waters into a place of delight. Here, you can visit Palazzo Borromeo, a casket of Baroque art, and the Italian Garden which houses statues and architectural decorations that alternate with geometries and botanical preciousness. Obelisks and fountains amaze the visitor at every corner who, walking along the garden paths, can climb up to the large terrace, the command station of the island, where you can admire the vastness of Lake Maggiore. On the other hand, an atmosphere of great simplicity is found in the enchanting Isola dei Pescatori which, in the harmony of the nets spread out in the sun and the colorful houses, contrasts with the luxury of the other Borromean Islands. Finally, Isola Madre, the largest and most distant of the 3, offers an enchanted and unusual atmosphere with a visit to the English botanical garden which houses rare plant collections from all over the world, Palazzo Borromeo and the church of the noble family.
All of the islands offer refreshments in the characteristic restaurants overlooking the lake where you can taste the local gastronomy. Among the various annual festivals that take place, that of Ferragosto is the procession of boats on the waters of the lake, creating a show within a show.
Return to Stresa and enjoy an aperitif and/or dinner in one of the typical lakeside restaurants or in the alleys of the village.
Night in a hotel
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itinerary for this trip to Italy
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