Itinerary: Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Mattarone, Isola Bella, Borromean Islands
Stresa and Mattarone, magical views over Lake Maggiore
Stresa (pic n°2), a nice town located 90 kilometers north of Milan, is the ideal place if you are planning to visit Lake Maggiore (pic n°1).
Stresa is a very nice city, featuring a beautiful lakeshore promenade and some interesting attractions, such as Alpinia Botanic Garden and the garden of Villa Pallavicino. You can also visit some of the many villas that shine along the lake, or take a trip to Isola Bella the most famous isle of the beautiful Borromean Islands.
Stresa is also the perfect starting point if you like peaceful walks, mountain trekking, climbing, and cycling along the surrounding mountainous routes. The most striking ones are on Mottarone (pic n°4), a mountain located west of Stresa. Its peak, 1492 meters above sea level, is a fantastic natural terrace to enjoy a beautiful 360-degree view of Piedmont and Lombardy. Although it is not one of the highest peaks of the Alps, the unique views over Lake Maggiore and over the majestic Monte Rosa Massif (pic n°6) will leave you breathless!
Mottarone belongs to the western Alps group and it is also known as "the Mountain of the two Lakes", as it is conveniently located between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta. This massif is also a beloved destination for sportspeople who like any kind of winter sports, trekking, paragliding, downhill mountain biking on dedicated trails, and rally racing as well, even by professionals. A special attention is given to biking, which is celebrated by a biker's statue on the peak of the mountain.
In the past, Mottarone was accessible only by walk. Today, you can get to the peak from Stresa, taking a cable car (pic n°4), or by biking as well. If you are a non-expert biker, it would be wiser to take the cable car and taking your bike with you, and then go down for 25 kilometers (of which 15 on dirt road) following the signs for Stresa.
If you want to walk, keep in mind that the difference in elevation to be covered is about 1350 meters. In about 1 hour, the well-marked path takes you to the peak of Mottarone, where you can enjoy a great view of the Lake Maggiore and the mountains in the background.
However, the best way to reach the top is to take a cable car from Stresa to Mottarone, which leaves from Piazzale Lido and reaches the peak after a 20-minute journey. Generally, departures are every 20 minutes, from 9.30 AM until 5.30 PM.
Do not forget to taste the local food! The area surrounding Mottarone is scattered with many cheese factories that produce the local cheeses, of which the most famous is called Toma del Mottarone. The area is also rich in berries and herbs. You can also taste the local liquor, called Amaro Mottarone, which is produced with the herbs that grow on the peak of the mountain.
Some pictures of Stresa and Lake Maggiore:
Stresa (pic n°1); Lake Maggiore (pic n°2); View of the lake (pic n°3); Cable car to Mottarone (pic n°4); View of the lake from the top of Mattarone (pic n°5); Monte Rosa Massif (pic n°6)