Lake Maggiore

We’ve just returned after a rather spontaneous trip to Italy. It took us about 5 days beforehand to come up with the idea, or to be precise, it was my sister who came up with the idea of us all together going to Lake Maggiore. So we did, and even ended up also going through some parts of Switzerland, as we were near by and thought why not to explore further on. As a result, it proved once again, that deciding and planning things on the spot, it’s not always a bad idea. Sometimes it’s necessary to forget all the travel books and just drive where it takes you, discovering the things as you go along.

Magnificently scenic, Lake Maggiore has a unique geographical position: it borders with Piedmont, Lombardy and Ticino canton in Switzerland. It is the second largest lake in Italy, it stretches nearly 50km and has a depth of 372m. It’s a great destination for someone who’s interested in enjoying the harmony of peaceful atmosphere, Italian food culture and historical sights.

Along the lake there’re numerous villages and cities worth visiting. Below there are just few of them, which were particularly highlights for us. On the first day we visited Laveno Mombello, Ispra, Arona and Stresa. Most famous of them are two below:

Laveno Mombello, Italy

In the 19th century, Laveno Mombello was home to important ceramic industries. Today, it is a port town that connects the province of Varese with Verbania and the famous Borromean Island across Lake Maggiore.

Stresa, Italy

Once a fishermen’s village, now a popular tourist attraction, mainly because of descriptions of famous writers such as Stendhal, Byron and Dickens.

Town prospered in the 1800s with two noble families in town, the Borromeo and the Visconti. When steam ferries and rail lines increased in this zone, tourism traffic to Stresa and Lake Maggiore increased as well. Some grand hotels were built and famous travellers followed, like Rockefeller, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw and Hemingway. Stresa became known as a spa center.

On the second day we drove to Switzerland and visited Lugano, Bellinzona, Locarno and finishing our day back to Italy in Luino.

Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano is the largest town in the region of Ticino, it is not only Switzerland’s third most important financial, banking and business centre, but also a town of parks and flowers, villas and other important historic buildings. The two closest mountains to Lugano, Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè, give you an outstanding panorama of the town, Lake Lugano and the alpine scenery.

Below there is a mix of our highlights in pictures.








Monastero di Fonte Avellana

We’ve just come back after short but lovely break to Italy. Without mentioning the food, one of the highlights for us was a trip to Monastero di Fonte Avellana, a  Roman Catholic hermitage in Marche region. It is truly a peaceful place with a few well preserved buildings and the natural surroundings are beautiful and tranquil.

The location is a bit remote and, I have to say, driving on the road up to the monastery was a bit adventurous and not very enjoyable. Both my sister and I felt a bit ‘fragile’ after reaching the top, however, soon after we were rewarded with the most stunning views, spectacular surroundings and authentic hospitality.

Apparently, you can stay there over night on a sort of B&B basis, but some people (like us) are coming here for hiking in the mountains, especially this time of year it is absolutely beautiful.  The only regret we had is that we could not stay longer.

I loved the harmony and peace of Fonte Avellana and thought that we must come back to explore more hiking trails in the area, breath the clean mountain air and listen to the silence.





Mark’s highlights included catching multiple Italian grasshoppers, a lesser seen green spider, and a very speedy lizard.

Before leaving we visited the store where you can buy different goods produced by monks whom live there, including herbal teas, bitters, sweets, creams, soap, and for more adventurous their honey liquor, which  has 90 percentage of alcohol!

We tried this bright yellow ‘paint stripper’ on our last night after a proper Italian meat feast. If you like Pernod Anise, maybe you’d like this. Very fragrant, very yellow and very very strong. The best way to kill off any seasonal cold germs!!!