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Trip report - Switzerland and north Italy

Trip report - Switzerland and north Italy

Old May 26th, 2023, 11:09 PM
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it had been wet and cool until today.Day 5 :
Forecast for a sunny day, so we planned a lake day.

First up after breakfast, the local market in Stresa, in the back streets. Topped up our supplies of fruit and veg, also had a hot food vendor (delicious roasted chickens, ribs, ready made meals of stuffed capsicum), and cheese/ salamis, plus clothing/ bags/ linen sellers.

Then our double espresso pick me up.
I’ll describe timings for lake day, to help show how over scheduling doesn’t work.

Lots of people seemed intent on the 3 islands in one day.

Even our seemingly relaxed day turned out too ambitious.
Took the 10 am ferry (€17 day trip) to Villa Taranto for gardens. It’s such a gorgeous way to view the little towns on the shore, the ferry stops at the islands, there’s snow capped mountains in the distance. Ferry takes about an hour.

Villa Taranto gardens has its’ own stop. €12 entry. Take note of ferry timings for ongoing travel.

The gardens are stunning, sited on the peninsula with views in all directions, enormous trees, rhododendrons and azaleas, wisteria walks, lily ponds, a real joy to wander. Lovely outdoor cafe for gelati stop.

Ferry stops at the islands

Then on to Isola Madre https://www.isoleborromee.it/en/isola-madre/

The largest of the Borromean islands, with gardens and villa (€17)

The gardens are beautifully maintained, really lush, and an incredible collection of exotic plants, so there are bamboos, proteas, eucalypts, magnolias...

Even though boatloads of visitors pour onto the island, it does spread out, and works well for us being slow, others moved on and it’s a defined route so we were on our own until arriving at the villa.

Ferry from Villa Taranto


Arriving Isola Madre

We had packed our rolls and eaten in the gardens, but stopped at the island cafe for drinks/ snacks.

The villa is amazing, enormous rooms, furnishings, puppet theatre, fascinating glimpse into the wealth of the times.

Our ferry returned us to Stresa about 6:45 and dinner booking was for 7.

A long day.

Il Vicoletto restaurant in the back streets was my choice for dinner, a small restaurant, great food and service, and we were amazed at the prices for that quality €12 - €22 for interesting entree and mains (not a pizza and pasta place, they were mostly on the piazzas). Wandered home in blue hour, the back streets alive with families socialising, and children playing in the lanes.

Goats cheese pudding with roasted pear

Beef tartare with rhubarb and mustard seed

Guinea fowl

Almond biscuit with Greek yoghurt

I’d checked on streetview before I booked our apartment that there were no restaurants/ bars below - so we had quiet spot and could leave windows open.
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Old May 27th, 2023, 05:25 AM
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Gorgeous photos! What wonderful scenery! And that goat cheese pudding with roasted pear - wow, looks delicious and so creative!
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Old May 27th, 2023, 08:01 AM
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Wow!!! What beautiful photos! We haven't visited Switzerland yet (except for the Zurich airport) or Northern Italy, so we have to change that some day. We are leaving for Scotland on Monday, so I will read your report more closely when we return. You have a great eye for details and composition!
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Old May 27th, 2023, 08:36 AM
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Ade, those birds look incredibly exotic with all their color.
Its good to see that your prep-work has been paying off, quiet(er) lodgings in attractive towns.

Btw, Nelson's abovementioned 'guideline' is an interesting one, yeah?
I am done. derr Lindt
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Old May 27th, 2023, 09:30 PM
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Lake Maggiore looks beautiful. I've thought about visiting this area as well as the Swiss Alps in May but thought it is too early for hiking, so I've put it off.
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Old May 27th, 2023, 11:51 PM
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Day 6:

I do love having an apartment, the space, the ability to prepare a meal, a comfy sofa, but there are responsibilities - we have a folder of rubbish disposal rules, so funny as DH ran downstairs in his PJs when he heard the rubbish truck coming down the alley, woken by the clanking of glass at 6 am and realising we hadn’t put ours out.

Lazy morning, then ferry to Baveno, very charming town with a nice promenade.

Visited the church of Santi Gervasio and Protasio and wandered some back streets/ lanes.

Espresso, cocktail, and gelati on the promenade.Crazy run car event in town, so a bit noisy with sporty cars, Porsche, Lamborghinis, Bentleys..

My friend and cousin made us dinner in their apartment, having spent some time shopping that day and enjoying the little stores, especially the tiny hardware shop so unlike their (and ours) huge warehouse style hardware stores.

Thunderstorm in the evening, we ran home in pouring rain. That much rain would make the news back home. No wonder the gardens are so lush here.
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Old May 28th, 2023, 12:05 AM
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This was the Louis Vuitton event that closed Isola Bella for 3 days last week


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Old May 28th, 2023, 02:51 AM
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I know about the not always running gondolas in the Italian Alps.
Nevertheless, MACUGNAGA planned to open the Belvedere chairlift for yesterday and today as well as for next weekend and then daily from June 10th onwards.
I don't know if they did it as there is actually a lot of fog and cloudes in the area,
But if the weather is fine, even if the cableways don't run, these scenic mountain villages, built by German speaking people from the Canton of Valais a few centenaries ago (Macugnaga, Ponte Formazza, Rimella, Bosco Gurin) situated in valleys where the spring flowers will begin to bloom now are charming places anyway (at least IMO).

LAVENO - SASSO DEL FERRO: open daily from 11am until 5.40pm
VIEWPOINT PIANCAVALLO (1250m): 3 daily buses from Intra (VCO Trasporti)
PIANA VIGEZZO (1714 m): weekends only, departuers every hr from 8am until 5pm, gondola station 1 km from Prestinone railway station https://www.vigezzinacentovalli.com/...izi/orari.html
LOCARNO - CARDADA - CIMETTA (1650 m): about every 30 minutes
VERDASIO - COMINO (1150 m): from 9am until 6pm, check exact timtable with Centovalli railways
VIEWPOINT ALPE DI NEGGIA (1400 m, starting point of Monte Lema trail): 5 buses daily from Magadino boat's pier)
VIEWPOINT MONTE LEMA: (1620 m): every 30 min from 8.45 until 17.15, from bus stop Miglieglia
VIEWPOINT MONTE GENEROSO (1600 m, THE BEST OF ALL): cog wheel train from Capolago boat's pier and railway station
VIEWPOINT SERPIANO (650 m), every 45 min from Brusino boat's pier and bus station
VIEWPOINT MORNERA (1350 m) Departures from Carasso bus stop (Bellinzona) https://www.mornera.ch/funivia/
ALPE FOPPA (1530 m): 8.30am until 4.30pm, from Rivera railway station
LANDARENCA (1270 m, unspoilt Calanca Valley mountain village): automatic cableway from Selma bus stop

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Old May 28th, 2023, 11:53 AM
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Great way to do a trip report! Thank you so much for taking time each day to show photos, which are amazing, and write about the places you're visiting. Love the subjects and composition of your photos. Waiting to see and hear more about your trip.
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Old May 28th, 2023, 09:56 PM
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Day 7:

Today we visited Parco Pallavicino, in Stresa, €13 entry.
https://www.isoleborromee.it/en/parco-pallavicino/My cousin’s choice, not keen on long trip to Cannobio or Macugnaga.

Wonderful site, an easy promenade walk to entry, then a sprawling garden across a hillside, with enormous trees, shady lush areas, a magnificent flower garden, playground, farm area where kids can walk amongst the goats and alpacas. Just lovely.

The walk from Stresa to the park entrance, very pretty

weekend, so families and children enjoying the animals -

It’s been a colder, wetter spring than usual, so some flowering delayed.
It’s so well maintained and a delight to wander.

More thunderstorms in evening and we met at the local wine bar for our final catch up before they return home to Germany.

A buzzing place in the back street, chatted to a local who said so little rain in last 2 winters and rain every day in the last month.

we are only down the lane from the very busy square with a few off shoot alleys filled with restaurants and shops, but it is odd how few people venture down this way.
So it’s really quiet, but convenient and if we walk in other direction, we get to the produce market, the espresso and wine bars, the residential area.
We are opposite a Carrefour store, so I worried it’d be noisy, but it’s not at all. The rubbish trucks come about 6 am and the delivery trucks are quiet.
So a good choice of apartment.
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Old May 28th, 2023, 10:27 PM
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Enjoying your report so much .... lol even if I'm not a fan of gardens! Love the photos of everyday Italian life, alleys, and ancient buildings!

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Old May 29th, 2023, 05:59 AM
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Ade, that second-last shot was intriguing, a fresh approach to capturing that moment.
I am done. derr Switz
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Old May 29th, 2023, 06:41 AM
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Thank you for this fantastic trip report!
Great advice, gorgeous photographs, mouth watering food and entertaining commentary. I can't wait for more.
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Old May 29th, 2023, 06:53 AM
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Lovely pictures. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a detailed report.
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Old May 29th, 2023, 08:17 AM
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Thanks for your comments.Day 8:

Thunderstorms again this morning, then cleared to a sunny day.

Looking for a quiet day today, so did this walk from Stresa to Belgirate, the chestnut route, about 7:5 km:https://www.illagomaggiore.com/en_US...ineraries.html
Really lush, green, and peaceful walking.
The path climbs up behind the Parco Pallavicini we visited yesterday, and passes little hamlets, cemeteries, chapels, sprawling villas with grand driveways, some of which look like mountain pass roads with their hairpin curves.
This isn’t on the usual Lake Maggiore itinerary, but I love forests and the wooded hills behind Stresa are gorgeous.

Santa Caterina del Sasso monastery across the lake

Hillside village

Perfect spot for our lunch

Descending into Belgirate

Church door detail

Charming town

Oops, no ferry (forgot to check timetable)

so, found the bus stop and a bus in an hour so dropped into the bar down this road and had a much needed beer
then back to this stop for a 7 min ride back to Stresa

perfect day

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Old May 30th, 2023, 08:04 AM
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Day 9:
A 30 min train ride to Domodossola today, meeting Hambaghale (from Fodor’s and TripAdvisor) for lunch at Eurossola bistrot bistrot-menu.pdf
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch and chat, and stroll around the stunning medieval piazza Mercato and surrounding alleys.

Wow! So gorgeous.

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Old May 30th, 2023, 08:24 AM
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Great report

Climate Change and expensive fossil fuel burning cars, the irony.
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Old May 30th, 2023, 11:33 AM
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I like Domodossola too, the only North Italian town where the local population chased the Italian fascists and the German occupants in September 1944 already and founded a independant Republic. I'm sure you passsed over the Piazza Repubblica dell'Ossola, right in the city center, between the railway station and the Via Crucis to the famous Calvario del Sacro Monte, starting point of many scenic and well signposted hiking trails.
There is a big market every Saturday, very popular with Swiss people from Berne, Lausanne, etc.
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Old May 31st, 2023, 12:27 AM
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I had a wonderful time in Domo with these two... even though I have gone through Domo on the train for close to 60 years I had never stopped to go into the town. Wow! It is SO worth it. As you can see from the photos. The Bistrot was excellent too... makes me want to go back for a Saturday market after the summer is over.
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Old May 31st, 2023, 05:41 AM
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Good to hear Hambagahle - we're spending five nights there in October and are very much looking forward to it.
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