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The sights and pleasures of Italy's Lago Maggiore (Lake Maggiore)

Lago di Maggiore
Lake Maggiore. (Photo by Mbdortmund)

Despite its name, Lake Maggiore is, at 121 square kilometers, actually only Italy's second largest lake, after Lake Garda. This westernmost of Italy's great lakes is lined by forested shores and pokes its northern end into Switzerland but most of its length it in Italy, straddling the border between Lombardy to the east and Piemonte to the west.

Lake Maggiore's popularity as a resort began in 1800 when Napoleon's Simplon highway from Geneva to Milan skirted its shores and Europeans from far and wide discovered its mild climate perfect for building villas and gardens, turning its fishing villages into holiday retreats.

The gardens at Isola Bella
The gardens at Isola Bella.
It became a renowned European pleasure ground, its deep, moody waters backed by the Alps inspiring great minds like Flaubert, Wagner, Goethe, and most notably Ernest Hemingway, who set part of A Farewell to Arms in Stresa (a novel based very closely on his own World War I experiences).

Maggiore's most spectacular sights are a legacy of the powerful Borromeo family, who have ruled southern half of the lake as a family fiefdom since the 15th century... Full story

Top destinations on Lake Maggiore

Planning your trip to Lago Maggiore

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Also useful:

One-day tour (from
Lake Maggiore Day Trip from Milan

Hotels on Lake Maggiore (Venere, Booking)
• Hotels in Stresa (Venere, Booking)
• Hotels on the Borromean Islands (Venere, Booking)
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• Hotels in Arona (Venere, Booking)
• Hotels in Cannobio (Venere, Booking)
• Hotels in Angera (Venere, Booking) Italy Map

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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in February 2012. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett