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Lake Maggiore

It was called Lacus Maximus by the Romans to indicate that it was the largest of the close lakes, and also Verbanus, probably from the two celtic words ver (great) and benn (container).

Lake Maggiore extends for a length of 66 km, has a medium depth of 177 mt and a surface of 212.2 sq km, of which 45 sq km in Switzerland. Second in size only to Lake Garda, it is the second largest Italian lake. It lies at the feet of the Alps, where it was formed in the glacial era, as shown by the rounded contours of its bottom and by the morainic hills which surround it and enclose it to the south. Lake Maggiore is shared by two Italian regions. While the eastern shores nestle in Lombardia, the western side of the lake marks the north eastern corner of Piemonte and even the border with Switzerland a few kilometers north of Cannobio.

The position of the lake surrounded by hills and mountains which protect it from the rigours of the north, creating an environment in which the warmth of the temperate climate is combined with the fresh air from the mountains. The climate favors a beautiful botanic garden on the lake shore, with exotic and rare plants including even those from the subtropical zone. There are three groups of islands within the lake: the famous Borromeo islands and Cannero Castle islands that belong to Piemonte and the Brissago islands that are in Switzerland.

Lake Maggiore receives the waters of the Ticino and Toce rivers but even the waters of Lake Lugano through the Tresa stream, of Lake Orta through the Strona stream, of Lake Varese through the Bardello stream and of Lake Mergozzo, which is separates from it by the alluvium deposits of the Toce River. The only effluent is the Ticino River that leaves the lake at Sesto Calende, flowing into the Po River from the left, downstream of Pavia.

In the past it played not only a strategic role as route of transit and natural outlet towards North Europe but also as a defender against the invasions by the barbarians.

In 1400 it became feud of the Borromeo family, which knew how to value its natural and landscaped beauties so much to make it a renowned holiday resort for the Milanese aristocracy.

The Lake Maggiore's Lombard shore is to Varese Province. It is also called 'meager shore' opposite to the Piemonte 'rich shore', full of luxurious villas. However, artists as Dario Fo, Piero Chiara, Vittorio Sereni, Renato Pozzetto, Massimo Boldi, Francesco Salvi were born in this meager shore, all of them on the coast between Laveno and Luino.

Place to visit is the monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro at Leggiuno that offers one of the most beautiful view of Lake Maggiore.

Other localities that deserve a visit are Angera, with the Rocca Borromeo, Laveno with the viewpoint of Sasso del Ferro, Luino, with its Wednesday famous market and Maccagno, with its lakeside promenade..


A trip along the Lake Maggiore.


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