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Scaling the peaks and island hopping on Lake Maggiore

by Elena Guarneri last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

From Mount Mottarone to the shores of Lake Maggiore.

Climb every mountain
Busto Arsizio and Arona are separated by the 1491 metres of Mount Mottarone, which also marks the boundary between Lakes Maggiore and Orta. The views from the mountain are breathtaking and sporty types can choose between skiing, cycling and trekking depending on the season. The choice is yours. Those of you who prefer to keep body and soul intact for the rest of the tour may prefer to join the local model aircraft club Volo a Vela and test your skills on the remote control, indeed model plane enthusiasts from all over the world regularly descend in the area for the club's international meetings.

Take a quick look at the weather forecast check your backpack for water and sunblock and you're ready for one of the many treks around Mount Mottarone. The small village of Gignese at the foot of the mountain makes a good stopover for its Umbrella Museum - you'll be able to amaze your friends with umbrella-related trivia for years to come!

SancarloneSaintly vision
As you make your way down the other side of the mountain towards Lake Maggiore you'll come across an imposing bronze statue known as the Sancarlone. The statue is dedicated to Saint Carlo (1538-1584), the erstwhile bishop of Milan and member of Lake Maggiore's most famous family - the Borromeo clan. You can climb up the inside of the statue and enjoy views of the lake through his saintly eyes.

Island hopping
During the summer season there are boats leaving Arona for Stresa every 30 minutes. Stresa is a good base for visiting the Borromean Islands with boats leaving regularly during summer. Take the five-minute trip to Isola Bella, and visit Palazzo Borromeo, once home of the Borromeo family and now a magnificent example of Baroque architecture, with its elegant gardens, much copied in stately homes throughout the world. A further ten minutes takes you to Isola Madre, which, with its exotic gardens and multi-coloured parrots, is home to Italy's tallest palm trees

L'Isola dei Pescatori
Last stop is Isola dei Pescatori, the only of Maggiore's islands to be inhabited and once a thriving fishing village. Wander through the island's narrow streets to savour some of the flavour of the old fishing community and then treat yourself to a plateful of fresh fish - from La Pescheria (literally The Fishmonger- what else?) restaurant.

Links - -All you need to know about Lake Maggiore - - The official tour operator's site
Sancarlone - - More about the gigantic statue of Saint Carlo Borromeo

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