With flowers and palm trees everywhere and island gardens on the lake, Lago Maggiore comes in as one of the most paradisiacal places I've ever visited. My first visit to the lake was three summers ago when my mother, grandmother, and I decided to take a holiday in June. We stayed at an old hotel on the outskirts of Baveno, a small town visited by Shelley, Wordsworth, and Queen Victoria, and spent two weeks relaxing and taking in the Italian sun and scenery (which in my case, meant hiding beneath a giant hat with my books). We've been back twice since and returned last month when my grandma insisted on a change of space.
My favorite thing about the lake is the Borromean islands. A set of three (four, if you count the minuscule tree landing) islands between Stresa, Baveno, and Verbano, the islands house two palazzos, two gardens, and a fishing village. We'd been to Isola Bella and Isola Madre, respectively the islands housing the palazzos and gardens, on our past trips and went back to both this time, in addition to finally visiting Isole dei Pescatore for lunch. I took so many pictures on each of those visits that I'm going to make separate posts for Isolas Bella and Madre. Above though, you can see Isola Bella's highly architectural garden from behind from the boat ride to Isola Madre.
As I said, I'm going to do a separate post for photos from Isola Madre, but I couldn't resist including the above. The palazzo on the island is not as impressive as the one on Isola Bella, but it houses this one, exquisite room that has to be one of my favorites in Italy.
We stayed just outside of Stresa this time, at the Villa Aminta. Staying there was quite an experience in itself, and as my mom and grandma both wanted to rest as much as possible and I had to spend half of each day working, being somewhere so nice made the holiday all the more relaxing (and I definitely needed my cocktails once I was done with work in the afternoons).
Have I mentioned how much I love gnocchi? After bagels, it may just be my favorite food on earth. I had it quite a few times this trip, twice at one of the hotel's restaurants, at La Rampolina (a restaurant up on the mountain with exquisite views like the one in the first photo of the post), and at a few restaurants in Stresa. I can't get enough of it, and having fresh versions of it (with shrimp in the above photo!) was such a treat!
More to come later!