A territory to live 365 days a year: here’s the itineraries and tourism proposals for all the seasons!
A territory to live all year round!
Through lakes, hills and mountains, we’ll give you an overview of the turistic excellences to live fully, 365 days a year.
LAKE MAGGIORE and LAKE ORTA
"ON THE TRAIL OF BORROMEO BETWEEN HISTORY AND NOBILITY” – ARONA, ROCCA BORROMEO AND SANCARLONE
Arona is a beautiful tourist destination located to the South of Lake Maggiore, but it is also a vibrant little town thanks to its year-round residents. According to its history, during the Middle Ages Arona was under Visconti domination and then, from 1439 to 1797, under the Borromeo. There are many important monuments of Arona, including the characteristic Piazza del Popolo, the “lounge of the city”, a place where took place the daily commercial negotiations until the 19th century, and the charming Piazza San Graziano, where there is the Church of SS. Martiri. The Church of Collegiata di Santa Maria (15th century) is one of the most important religious monuments, thanks to the “Polittico della Natività” of Gaudenzio Ferrari inside the church. You can’t miss a walk in the Old Town, along the central shopping street, towards public gardens and the Lido, green oasis on the water surface.
On the 13th century, the town of Arona had a castle, whose remains are on the Rocca Borromeo, that today is a park surrounded by nature with a wonderful view on the lake, the city centre, the pre-Alps and the Lombardy side with the mighty Angera Castle. Inside the Rocca, whose today remains just some ruins, San Carlo Borromeo was born in the room “of the three lakes”, called like this for its wonderful view on the lake.
The main attraction of Arona is the Statue of San Carlo Borromeo, done in 1698 by order of Cardinal Federico Borromeo. The “Sancarlone”, whose intent was to pass on through centuries the image of Carlo Borromeo, an historical figure of Arona, had to be seen from the lake too. Giovan Battista Crespi, known also as the Cerano, designed the colossus that was made with hammered copper plates assembled by means of nails and ties. The statue of 23,40 m lies on a granite pedestal 11,70 m high, for a total height of 35,10 m, becoming the second tallest statue in the world after the Statue of Liberty of New York. It can be visited inside, getting to the head it is possible to admire a beautiful landscape.
ITINERARY THAT CAN BE MATCHED
"LAKE MAGGIORE: BETWEEN NATURE AND ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE LAGOONS NATURAL PARK"
"TO THE MOTTARONE, THE TWO LAKES MOUNTAIN” – STRESA
Stresa is the most famous tourist destination along the Piedmontese shore of Lake Maggiore: right here, tourism was born in the second half of the 19th century with the Grand Tour and were built the luxury Grand Hotels that are also nowadays the symbol of the “Pearl of the Lake” all over the world. Surrounded by a “Dolce Vita” atmosphere, its lake side and the gardens are right in front of Borromeo Islands – Isola Bella and Isola Madre - and to the Isola Pescatori.
The Mottarone, located between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta, is considered one of the most beautiful natural balconies of the entire Piedmont and beyond. Its orographic formation allows to switch from the Padana plain to the Alps. The eye of the observer is struck by the view on Monte Rosa and the seven lakes (Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Lake Mergozzo, Lake Varese, Lake Comabbio, Lake Monate and Lake Biandronno). Mottarone is an entertainment place during every season: winter sports, trekking and walk from spring to autumn. There are also typical lake and mountain menu in characteristics mountain huts and in gourmet restaurants.
ITINERARY THAT CAN BE MATCHED:
“LAKE MAGGIORE: BETWEEN NATURE AND ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE LAGOONS NATURAL PARK”
"THE GREEN CITY ON THE BLUE, A CAPITAL HUMAN-SIZED” – VERBANIA
It is the main centre of Lake Maggiore, made up in 1939 with the unification of Intra, Pallanza, Suna, Fondotoce (and other smaller villages) and became more recently capital of the Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. Pallanza, of Roman origin, with its antique villas, romantic walks and small jewel restaurants, is located in a wonderful panoramic position. The vibrant Intra is the main port of Lake Maggiore Navigation, characterized by the daily connection by ferry with a shuttle for Laveno (Va) on the Lombardy side. It offers interesting opportunities for shopping with many shops and the active Saturday market. And then, its old town is a mix of peculiar streets, small courtyards and squares that go from the lake to the big San Vittore Cathedral. Suna it’s another picturesque village, with its characteristic lake side, natural views on the Borromeo bay and trendy bars for the happy hour or restaurants for a romantic candlelight dinner.
ITINERARY THAT CAN BE MATCHED:
"LAKE MAGGIORE: ALONG LINEA CADORNA ON THE HILLS OVER VERBANIA"
"ART, NATURE AND FAITH ABOVE THE LAKE” – SACRED MOUNT OF GHIFFA
A wonderful panoramic balcony of about 200 acres of lawn and wood overlooking Lake Maggiore. This is the Nature Special Reserve, formed by regional law in 1987 to protect historical buildings and promote its natural environment. Inside the Reserve there is the monumental baroque complex of the Sacred Mount, elected in 2003 by UNESCO World Heritage, celebrating the mystery of the Holy Trinity with a sanctuary and three chapels built from 1605.
"ROMANTIC VIEWS ON LAKE ORTA” – ORTA, ISLAND OF SAN GIULIO AND SACRED MOUNT
The medieval village of Orta, on a peninsula of the enchanted mirror of Lake Orta, is a famous tourist centre that gives an atmosphere of other times, thanks to its evidence of the past, such as decorated palaces, baroque churches, towers, squares and cobbled streets. Villa Motta, dating from the 19th century, is a private residence, famous for its private gardens that can be visited during the fine weather. Along the central street there is Casa Bossi, now the Town Hall, with a beautiful public garden in front of the lake, that gives the possibility to appreciate the antique ability to create wrought iron balconies and gates. Following some shops, little taverns and picturesque accomodation facilities, you arrive in Piazza Motta, the “lounge” of the town, with the Community Palace (1582), the fisherman arcades building and the pier for San Giulio Island. Along the Motta climb you can have a walk through the most antique mansions of Orta between the 14th and 18th century, up to the Assunta Parish (1485). Passed the city centre, along Via Fava, there are many views on the Island, that leads to Villa Crespi (1888), a big Moorish-style building that today is a prestigious hotel. You can reach the San Giulio Island in 20 minutes of Navigation from Orta, that is the “pearl” of the lake and symbol of the entire Cusio region. The island name comes from the evangelized Saint that, according to the tradition, chose this place as his last house and where, in 390 A.D, decided to build his hundredth church. In the 9th and 11th century was built the current roman style church. However, it is possibile to see inside the crypt the remains of the ancient paleochristian church. Inside the cathedral, through baroque style decorations, there is the ambone built in serpentine of Oira (a place on the west shore of the lake) with the figures of the 4 evangelists and Benedictine abbot Guglielmo da Volpiano, that is considered one of the greatest examples of Romanesque sculpture nationally recognised. Next to the Cathedral, stands since 1973 the Benedictine Abbey “Mater Ecclesiae”, that before was the episcopal castle of Novara bishop and Prince of Orta Riviera.
Walking along the round “Prayer and Meditation path” you can see its majesty. All around the church and the abbey there are many private houses, just a few annually inhabited, and many other holyday makers’ houses from abroad.
The Orta Sacred Mount is a monumental complex dedicated to S. Francesco and lies on the top of a hill just behind the town. In the 16th century, at the behest of S. Carlo Borromeo and then of the Novara Bishop Carlo Bascapè, was begun the construction in order to combat the Protestant Reformation beyond the Alps. The works ended much later, in the 18th century. There are 21 chapels along a spiral path in chronological order of the “Poor d’Assisi” life. Today’s visitor, the pilgrim of the past, walk towards a place of moral regeneration, and at the same time he is entranced by the beauty of the frescoes and statues that adorn the chapels. The high religious and artistic value joins the natural one of the Special Nature Reserve. Between the chapels you can see some hornbeams, beeches and tall oaks surrounded by the wildlife of this natural oasis of peace. In 2003 the Sacred Mount was nominated by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. From the forecourt of the medieval SS. Nicolao and Francesco Church, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful view of the lake.
ITINERARY THAT CAN BE MATCHED:
"LAKE ORTA: THE “GOLDEN RADIUS” FROM PETTENASCO TO LEGRO DI ORTA”
“AT THE FOOT OF THE ALPS, THROUGH CULTURAL VILLAGES AND UNESCO SITES” – DOMODOSSOLA AND CALVARIO SACRED MOUNT
Domodossola, the historic Ossola capital, has the ancient role of border town, because it is the last large village before Simplon Pass and the neighbouring Switzerland (Vallese). It always has been an important international railway station for goods and passengers. You must visit the well-preserved Renaissance city centre that made Domodossola the Village of Culture, with Piazza Mercato, Galletti Theatre, Silva Palace, San Francesco Palace, its arcades and…the typical roofs in beole. The big Saturday Market has ancient origin, with its various and colourful goods that weekly attracts locals and turists from Italy and from abroad.
The Special Natural Reserve, that was nominated by UNESCO heritage of umanity in 2003, is located on the historic Mattarella Hill, in a dominant position towards Domodossola. The complex that was built since 1656, is dedicated to Christ crucified, and over the centuries were added 15 chapels that retrace the stations of the Way of the Cross. In 1828 settled there the religious and philosopher Antonio Rosmini, that created the Institution of Charity with the Rosminian Fathers as custodians. Next to the sacred complex, the “Mill and press path” allows you to admire, through typical villages and gentle hills, the ancient evidence of the past rural life.
ITINERARY THAT CAN BE MATCHED:
“OSSOLA: THE ANCIENT VILLAGES OF DOMODOSSOLA”
"ANZASCA VALLEY, THE VALLEY OF THE ROSA” – MACUGNAGA AND THE MONTE ROSA
The peculiar Walser village of Macugnaga, founded in the 12th century by Swiss herdsmen coming from the neighbouring Vallese, today is a well-known ski resort with its stations of Moro (cable car Alpe Bill-Monte Moro) and Belvedere (cable car Alpe Burki-Belvedere) and it is also a tourist centre known for its wood chalets, the tradition, customs, cuisine and Walser language. There are interesting visitor centres, such as the Mountain and smuggling Museum and the Walser House Museum. Macugnaga is the starting point for excursions – easy or more difficult – on the Piedmont side of Monte Rosa glacier (4.634), the second highest mountain of the alps, which is a huge cathedral of rock and ice that create a breath-taking view clearly visible from the village.
"AN ALPINE PARADISE FOR EVERYONE FOR THE WHOLE YEAR” – VEGLIA – DEVERO NATURAL PARK: DEVERO ALP
It is a natural park of rare beauty in the heart of the alps, a paradise full of alpine vegetation and wildlife, and this is why it is called “Little Canada”. Here there are easy walks, for all the family, that will give you the whole year the possibility to live the enchanted atmosphere of the park, that is characterized by golden coniferous and prairies during autumn or covered by the white snow in winter. Between the Devero’s plain and the village of Crampiolo there are many typical restaurants, but also farms where you can fully taste alpine products, such as cold cuts, cheese, honey and yogurt…a tasty snack for everyone. Lago delle Streghe and Devero Lake, with its dam, will leave you breathless thanks to the contrast between blue and green of the water, the woods all around it and the fairy sky.
ITINERARY THAT CAN BE MATCHED:
"OSSOLA: DEVERO BETWEEN ALP AND LAKE"
"UP TO THE TOP OF PIEDMONT!” – FORMAZZA, TOCE WATERFALL AND RIALE PLAIN
Formazza, the main centre of the valley, is an ancient Walser settlement where in 12th century a group of herders of German origin coming from the neighbouring Canton Vallese (CH) peacefully settled, adapting to the strict rules of the mountain life. From that moment they pass on from generation to generation their language, costumes, cuisine, tradition and typical architecture that can be fully appreciated in Formazza.
The Toce Waterfall, Ossola symbol, with its jump of 145 m is considered the most beautiful and majestic waterfall of the alps. It gives the visitor a unique landscape, at an altitude of 1.657 m between the higher Formazza Valley mountains and surrounded by pastures, rocks and coniferous wood.
Just above the waterfall, the Riale ring (1.815 m) is one of the largest cross-country skiing circuits with natural conformation of Piedmont. The dam and Morasco Lake, just above Riale Plain, are a wonderful “lunar” landscape, where the high trees give way to rocks and small shrubs, surrounded by high peaks and high-altitude colourful flowers.
ITINERARY THAT CAN BE MATCHED:
"Formazza valley: RIALE AND LAKE MORASCO"
"VIGEZZO VALLEY, THE PAINTERS VALLEY” – SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE, RE SANCTUARY AND VIGEZZINA-CENTOVALLI
In Santa Maria Maggiore, little capital of the valley with a beautiful old town, there are the Chemney sweep Museum and the Rossetti Valentini School of Fine Arts. This two shows the symbol jobs of the past of the valley, such as the chimney sweep, that were done since an early age by people who emigrated in Italy and abroad following their master, and the painter that was able to paint native mountain landscapes and to make them known also out of the national borders. The pinewood all around Santa Maria Maggiore is a quiet place where families can do relaxing walks.
The Sanctuary of Madonna del Sangue di Re, that is located at the east end of Vigezzo Valley, originated from a miraculous event that happened in 1494. It consists of two buildings, one of the 600 and the other of the 900, fully made in granite and connected with a four towers dome.
The exciting itinerary that connect Domodossola to Locarno in Switzerland (Canton Ticino) by the Vigezzina-Centovalli train, through Vigezzo Valley and the little swiss wild valleys, winds through woods, pretty villages and gentle plains. In Ossola it is the symbol of slow mobility, the idea of the means of travel as the real attraction of the journey itself, and the symbol of autumn thanks to its colours. That it is why during this season it becomes the “Foliage Train”.
NOTE FOR ALL THE PATHS
In mountain it is advisable to wear sportswear/technician, trekking shoes or boots and windbreaker.
You should always verify the weather conditions of the chosen day for the trip (and also the snow presence if it is an itinerary at altitude).
For museum/attraction openings and anti-Covid measures in place, always check the official museum/attraction website.