The extensive cultural opportunities offered by the area’s many museums to discover the ancient traditions and local history amoung Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Lake Mergozzo and Ossola Valleys
The Museo Manzoniano in Lesa - at Palazzo Stampa – is a neoclassical style villa where famous author Alessandro Manzoni stayed with his second wife. Inside the museum, visitors can admire the Sala Manzoniana, with its collection of books, manuscripts and parchments related to the illustrious writer’s life and works. Some letters and tracts written by the philosopher Antonio Rosmini are on display, in addition to mementos and manuscripts by the writer Giulio Carcano, who was a friend of Manzoni. The Museum – and its cultural events - is open only during the summer months (June – September). During the winter, it can be visited by appointment only. Call +39 339 8513219 for reservations. The staff will be happy to accompany visitors (info: www.comune.lesa.no.it, www.prolocolesa.com, tel. +39 0322 772078,
In Stresa, we find two important cultural sites: “Villa Ducale” (the oldest villa in Stresa) and the “Museo Pietro Canonica”. The former is located on the lakefront and was built by the Bolognaro Family around 1770. From 1850 to 1855, it became the home of the Abbot and philosopher Antonio Rosmini – considered the greatest Italian intellectual of the 1800s – and now it is the seat of the Centro Internazionale di Studi Rosminiani. This organisation aims to promote culture in general, and the philosophy and works of Rosmini. The Centro Studi can be visited Monday through Friday from 9 am to 12 pm and from 3 to 6 pm. On weekends and for groups, contact the office for an appointment (info: www.stresaturismo.it,
, tel. +39 0323 30150).
Starting in 1898, the sculptor Pietro Canonica came to Stresa regularly for a period of 17 years, because of his friendship with the Duchess of Genoa, the mother of Queen Margherita of Savoy. The “Museo Pietro Canonica” in Stresa is dedicated to this artist. In 1953, he donated to the Municipality a nucleus of plaster and marble statues which are now visible in a room dedicated to him in the Palazzo del Comune (www.cultmedia.info).
Since last year, cologne (acqua di Colonia) has been given an Italian “home”: in Santa Maria Maggiore the “Casa del Profumo” can be visited. It is the new museum celebrating the Italian history of the most famous perfume in the world. It has an exhibition area, an elegant info point and shop, and a marvellous greenhouse located in a garden. On the first floor, the museum’s most important exhibit is an fascinating modern display that blends innovation and history through a technological and multi-sensorial path (info: www.santamariamaggiore.info).
Mergozzo is the “land of stone” with its landscape of transparent lakes and the impressive presence of Montorfano, the subject of the Ecomuseo del Granito, the Granite Museum. This is an old land, with archaeological traces from the stone age preserved at the Civico Museo Archeologico.
The Ecomuseo del Granito covers the entire Mergozzo area and surrounding territory, including quarries of pink marble from Candoglia and granite in the colours white from Montorfano, green from Mergozzo and pink from Baveno. To additionally enhance the value of the theme of granite, since January 2017 a convention has been operating, with the Municipalities of Mergozzo and Baveno partnering with the Museo Granum and the Gruppo Archeologico di Mergozzo, to publicise the long history of the extraction of “lake granite” (Graniti dei Laghi) at the Ecomuseo. We would also like to mention that from March to October the cycle of events titled “La pietra racconta” (Stone Tells its Story) will be presented again. In this series, stones become music in the natural “stone” landscape, offering fascinating sounds (info: www.ecomuseogranitomontorfano.it).
The Museo del Paesaggio di Verbania was founded in 1909 by Antonio Massara, but only in 1914 did it adopt this name (which means “Verbania Landscape Museum”). Today, the museum offers the public a collection of paintings and sculptures that show various aspects of the art and history of the province.
Most of the museum’s artefacts are from the second half of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, including “Scapigliatura” by Daniele Ranzoni, “Naturalismo” by Achille Tominetti, and “Divisionismo” by Vittore Grubicy De Dragon and Carlo Fornara. The sculpture section is quite varied and important, with a collection of 344 plaster pieces from the impressionist sculptor Paolo Troubetzkoy (1866-1938) born in Intra to a Russian father and American mother. The museum will open at the following times during the high season: Monday, closed; Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 am to 7 pm. (info and exhibition schedule: www.museodelpaesaggio.it).
Museo Meina: this museum is located on Lake Maggiore in a splendid panoramic complex overlooking the lake, built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, a cultural park tells the story of nature using multimedia. This corner of paradise is the Museo Meina, located in the Park and in the buildings around the Chalet of villa Faraggiana. The visit to this museum begins in the ancient Greenhouses of Villa Faraggiana, a large interactive park where you can use a smartphone or tablet to access multimedia content in Italian and English, interesting facts and in-depth information about the different plants.
At Museo Meina, children will undoubtedly find the “ideal town” of experiences tailored just for them.
In March, visitors need to know that the “Salotto dei Faraggiana” will take place, with conferences, concerts, theatre performances and workshops to learn about botany, climatology and theatre. During the first weekend in April, the event “Meina in Fiore” will be held. Visitors can meed local flower farmers through meetings, conferences and themed exhibitions (for more information www.museomeina.it).
The Documentation Centre of the Casa della Resistenza (Parco della Memoria e della Pace) in Verbania Fondotoce was founded in 2010 to collection, catalogue and digitalise photographs from the period of the Resistance, and more generally the history of the 1900s in the Verbano Cusio Ossola territory with the objective of protecting them and enhancing their historical value. The relative Association (with the same name) organises guided tours, educational training, exhibitions and several events throughout the year (info, opening times and days: www.casadellaresistenza.it)
A land is rich in culture and traditions, the Ossola area takes care of its important cultural history through around 40 small and medium-sized exhibition venues that all belong to the Associazione Musei d'Ossola, a network that promotes, publicises and forms synergistic relationships between the cultural assets in the respective museums. The network helps people enjoy the museums by forming itineraries (art and architecture - ethnographics - natural history) that intertwine the past and present through the religious, intellectual and natural locations, while placing fragments of history and unique culture into relation with one another. The network also organises various cultural initiatives that involve participating museums throughout the territory, and promotes initiatives of individual museums (info: www.amossola.it).
The Rete Museale Alto Verbano includes the museums of Palazzo Parasi (Cannobio), the Museo Etnografico e della Spazzola and the Parco degli Agrumi (Cannero Riviera), the Museo dell’Arte del Cappello (Ghiffa), the Museo Etnografico di Gurro e della Valle Cannobina (Gurro), the Centro di Documentazione Ecomuseo del lago e dei monti di (Lunecco) and the Museo Tattile di Scienze Naturali (Trarego Viggiona). Several events, exhibitions, workshops and educational initiatives will be organised this year at the various museums, all of which are open and can be visited from 1 April to 31 October 2019 (info: www.unionelagomaggiore.it/musei).
Another interesting tourist attraction is the Ecomuseo del Lago d’Orta e Mottarone (Ecomuseo Cusius). Founded in 1997 through the association of local bodies, museums and other sites open to visitors around the lake and on the slopes of Mt. Mottarone, this museum system is made up of an interesting selection of thematic activities organised around three main itineraries: culture, art and nature. With its multiple cultural options, it is a new type of attraction that enhances the value and promotes conservation of local environmental, cultural and historical resources. In 2019, the main activity of the Ecomuseo will be connected with the celebrations of the 800 years of the Riviera di San Giulio (1219-2019) fief, which remained independent for over 500 years, thus guaranteeing the prosperity of people from this territory (info; directions to individual sites, events, particular initiatives and itineraries: www.lagodorta.net).