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travellinglyn Feb 5th, 2016 07:16 PM

Lake Maggiore
Hi there we are staying in Stresa in late April & I'm wondering if there is any little towns we can hop across to on the ferry with a nice walking path beside the lake that joins to another town to get the ferry back to Stresa from. We did this in 2014 along lake Garda & loved stopping at little wine bars along the walking path & Lake between the 2 towns.
Also is the cable car for the beautiful views up & running again for 2016. Thanks for any advice.

greg Feb 5th, 2016 07:49 PM

You are not interested in visiting islands in the Lake? Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori, and Isola Madre?

HappyTrvlr Feb 5th, 2016 07:55 PM

Recco is across rhe lake and a nice town to visit. I agree with above pister to see the three nearby islands first though.

travellinglyn Feb 5th, 2016 10:00 PM

Yes we will definately be visiting the islands. how much time should one allow at each and can they be all done in one day? Which is the best 2 of the 3? But i am also interested in other towns thankyou.

traveller1959 Feb 6th, 2016 12:40 AM

There are boat trips from Stresa which are organized as round trips. Some of them land on all three islands, other trips only on Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori. Depending on the tour operators, you will have 30 to 60 minutes for each island. Total time would be between 3 hours and 6 hours. See here for one of several tour operators:

You can also take a regular ferry boat to Pescatori and from there to Bella, so you are flexible and you may stay longer on one island, e.g. on Pescatori in order to have an extended meal.

Now, the islands:

- Pescatori (fishers' island) is basically a picturesque fishing village. There is a hotel and there are restaurants. In one of them, we once had lunch on a terrace from which we looked down on the water where we could see exactly the same kind of fish swimming that we had on our plates. Good and romantic!

- Bella (the beautiful) is of course the most beautiful one: there is a splendid palace on the island and a gorgeous garden. The palace's main facade is on the tip of the island, so it makes a beautiful picture when the boat is approaching the island.

- Madre (mother) has another palace and more natural gardens. Of all three islands, this one is least interesting. If you have plenty of time, go there. If not, skip it without much regret.

sandralist Feb 6th, 2016 03:25 AM

I actually found Madre to be the most beautiful of the islands, and the most interesting (and the least touristed), but I recommend all 3 so you can have your own experience of them. I will say though that I found the interior of the Palazzo Borromeo on the Isola Bella on of the most tasteful and harmonious I have seen in Italy, so if you enjoy interior design, make time (about 40 minutes) to visit). It's also a great escape from the hordes that descend on Isola Bella and its gardens, since few tourists bother to go inside the palazzo.

If you decide to have a meal on I Pescatori make sure you choose wisely. I ate at a hotel restuarant (I recall there is only one on the island) and the meal was terrible! So read up on reviews. And while it might be romantic to see on your plate the same kind of fish that you see swimming in the lake, hope that the fish you are eating actually was fished out of some other lake. (Or ask.) Unfortunately, Lago di Maggiore is hideously polluted (not recommended for swimming either).

traveller1959 Feb 6th, 2016 06:33 AM

Ah, Sandralist-Zeppole, snappish as ever!

According to tough testing of the European Union, Lago Maggiore has excellent water quality. For an interactive map, see here (and zoom in):

The only Italian lake with questionable water quality (not sufficient data, which is not a good sign) is Lake Como.

I have been swimming in Lago Maggiore and I would do it again without hesitation.

StCirq Feb 6th, 2016 10:14 AM

April is a spectacular time to visit Stresa, as there should be wildflowers all over in the hills. Apart from the Borromean Islands, all of which we loved, we enjoyed taking the ferry to the market in Luino and the other ferry-stop towns. We also loved Bevano and the Mattarone cable car.

neckervd Feb 6th, 2016 10:18 AM

The cableway from Stresa to Monte Mottarone is closed since October 2014. It may run again in 2017. Monte Mottarone can actually be reached by bus, 4times daily or so.

Other cableways around Lake Maggiore:
Laveno - Sasso del Ferro
Locarno - Orselina - Cardada - Cimetta

There is no town called Recco along Lake Maggiore.

Hiking trails are omnipresent around and above Lake Maggiore. How long do you plan to walk?

Frequent Public boats run from Stresa via the 3 Islands and Baveno to Pallanza and Intra, where you can board the car ferry to Laveno.
A few public boats go from Stresa to Santa Catarina and to Belgirate, Angera - Arona.
There is a twice daily boat service from Stresa to Pallanza - Intra - Luino - Cannobio - Brissago Islands - Ascona - Locarno.

Train lines:
Stresa - Belgirate - Lesa - Meina - Arona - Gallarate - Milano,
Stresa - Baveno - Verbania - Domodossola - Brig - Bern,
Gallarate - Laveno - Luino - Magadino - Locarno/Bellinzona
Domodossola - Locarno
Laveno - Varese - Saronno - Milano/Como

Main bus lines:
Stresa - aeroporto Malpensa
Stresa - Lake Orta
Verbania - Lake Orta
Verbania - Pallanzo - Intra
Intra - Cannobio - Brissago - Ascona - Locarno
Intra - Premeno -Piancavallo

sandralist Feb 6th, 2016 11:02 AM

That was "snappish"? People have to like the same islands you do and they can't warn others about the pollution in the lake?

Buon appetito and happy swimming. But my standards are not the EUs for food safety or water safety, and there is a lot of support for my view in Italy about this, which takes independent assessments.

(For those who don't read Italian, the relevant part is this:

"Most polluted lake in Italy was found to be that of Como (Lombardy), who presented 10 critical issues (presence of faecal bacteria) out of 13 samples taken, as many as 8 of these have been called "Heavily Polluted". Right behind you place the Garda (Lombardy, Trentino and Veneto), with its eight critical points of which 5 to heavy pollution. A short distance they place Iseo lakes (Lombardy) and Maggiore (Lombardy and Piedmont), respectively, with 6:05 critical points, almost all results at the highest level of bacterial pollution from Escherichia Coli ."

Lago Maggiore is a lovely destination for sightseeing, as my post says. But I cannot in conscience recommend to other people that they eat fish from Lago di Maggiore, nor swim there (especially with children). If you find that snappish and want to be childish in your posts about it, not going to stop me from telling people, no matter what you want to call me.

sandralist Feb 6th, 2016 11:06 AM

(Yes, that is Google translate -- I was too lazy to do anything but cut and paste, but you get the gist: Lago Maggiore water samples have contained levels of E. Coli that exceed safe norms by Italian standards. Not a great recipe for a fish dinner or a swim.)

HappyTrvlr Feb 6th, 2016 01:39 PM

My error, we stayed in Ranco on the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore and took a ferry across to Stressa. Charming town.

travellinglyn Feb 6th, 2016 03:58 PM

Thankyou everyone for your input. I love these forums as there is nothing better than getting 1st hand advice and recommendations. I doubt I would be swimming in April anyway and I'll be mindful of those fish recipes haha. I have read rave reviews also about Lake Orta so is it really worth the effort to get there if we have time & is this easy from Stresa with regular transport services to & from. Can this be done in a 1/2 day trip if we got moving earlyish? Our 22 yr old son is joining us for 1 1/2 days in Stresa so I am deciding what he would enjoy also seeing & doing with us.I know little wine bars combined with some walking & exploring(hence my original question) would probably appeal more than visiting lovely italian villas that my husband & I will enjoy doing on our own. Thanks again everone I look forward to your expertise.

sandralist Feb 6th, 2016 04:32 PM

Is your son arriving from far away or a short hop? Because even 22 year olds like to catch up on their sleep.

There is a sweet, low-key pub/restaurant on the lakeshore that sometimes has live music in the evenings (and tango dancing!) It's a nice remove from the rest of the town, but a comfortable walk down the lakeshore promenade. It's actually one of the few (perhaps the only) bars/restaurants right on the shore of the lake

If he really likes to stay on the go, there is a toboggan run up in Mottarone.

As for the fish -- well, a lot of it comes from other places, but Lago Maggiore also has a mountain cuisine that really isn't fish- based. Problem with the fish beyond bacterial contaminants is also the plastic in the lake.

travellinglyn Feb 6th, 2016 04:45 PM

Thankyo for your quick reply. He will be flying from London into Milan and catching the train up to meet us in Stresa.I'm just wanting some nice memories to share as he will have been living in London for nearly 1 year by then from Australia and this is a reunion trip for us. He is joining us after here on a cruise from Venice of the Dalmation Coast. Im lobving the sound of this little restaurant.

neckervd Feb 7th, 2016 09:19 AM

Ranco: just opposite Meina and about 2 miles from Angera and it's famous rocca. Rather difficult to reach by public transport.

".I know little wine bars combined with some walking & exploring(hence my original question)"
I know, but I can't give you any answer as long as I don't know how long you want to walk (and if it must be just around Stresa or at other scenic places along the lake).

Public transport from Stresa to Lake Orta:
Bus Stresa - Baveno - Fondotoce - Intra car ferry: about every 30 - 60 min
Bus Intra - Fondotoce - Verbania train station - Omegna (Lake Orta): about every 30 min
Train Stresa - Verbania: 17 trains daily

Water pollution: all big North Italian lakes (except Lake Lugano) are somewhat polluted. The upper part of Lake Maggiore (above the mouth of river Toce) is cleaner than the lower part. That has something to do with sewage plants.

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