Itinerary from Stresa to Villa Taranto

  • Lake Maggiore

By boat on Lake Maggiore: precious pearls, fine pink granite and lush English gardens

Stresa, Baveno and Villa Taranto: a water route through history, culture and evocative nature

Have you ever wondered what Lake Maggiore sees when peering out at the land around it?

To discover the wonders of the basin and its surroundings from the point of view of the lake itself, simply board one of the many boats departing from its shores to be carried along the waters through the evocative panoramic views that make Lake Maggiore one of the most fascinating in northern Italy.

There are several recommended routes but the itinerary from Stresa to Villa Taranto via Baveno is certainly one of the most popular.

Taking you on this lake tour will be one of the comfortable Navigazione Laghi boats, departing daily from the Stresa docks.


Itinerary in the Borromean Gulf: Stresa, Baveno and Pallanza

The route envisaged by Navigazione Laghi to discover the shores of the westernmost area of Lake Maggiore – known as the Golfo Borromeo or, Borromean Gulf – includes a land visit to the town of Stresa before embarking in the direction of Baveno, with a stop in this town followed by another short boat trip to Villa Taranto in Pallanza.

The boat is certainly a unique and original way to appreciate this lake that has enchanted visitors from all over the world, thanks also to the area’s beautiful relief and hillside setting, not to mention being a link between Lombardy, Piedmont and Switzerland.

So, here are the stops in the itinerary designed for you …


Stresa: the Pearl of Verbano

There is nothing better than one of the most beautiful and popular resorts in northern Italy to serve as a starting point for this fascinating tour of Lake Maggiore.

Stresa is an enchanting village overlooking the lake, surrounded by a landscape and natural setting beyond compare – from the Alps framing the panorama to the romantic shores of the lakefront and the marvellous Borromean Islands arising in the centre of the gulf.

Yet, there is not only nature, since Stresa is also famous for its significant musical events, prestigious literary competitions and private functions held in the most refined locations of magnificent period residences, noble villas, exclusive hotels and well-kept gardens overlooking the lakefront.

One name amongst them all? Villa Pallavicino, with its boundless English garden, also houses the zoological park. An ideal stop for the whole family.

Here, your tour will commence from this beautiful location and, specifically, from Piazza Marconi right on the lakefront, where Navigazione Laghi staff will be on the boat dock to welcome you.

Baveno: sumptuous villas and thermal waters

Aboard a comfortable boat, you will sail the shores of the Borromeo Gulf westwards to Baveno.

Here, the first thing to catch your eye will be the foothills of Monte Camoscio, rising up behind the town, from where the prized pink granite of Baveno has been quarried since the 1500s.

And it is specifically from the top of the mountain that the Fonti di Baveno gush forth springs of curative waters that feed the thermal baths for which the town is renowned.

These are the town’s unique traits, yet it is the collection of sumptuous villas overlooking the shimmering water of the lake, characterised by unique and fascinating details, that act as a trait d’union with Stresa, with the turret of Villa Henfrey-Branca, the Moorish-style adornments of Villa Barberis, the Villa Fedora estate, the 16th-century friezes of Villa Brandolini d’Adda along with Villa Durazzo, a 19th-century mansion that houses the Lido Palace Hotel, where illustrious personalities such as Winston Churchill have stayed.

For those visiting the Borromeo Gulf, a stop in Baveno is thus a must to discover an historic centre where one can breathe in the air of 19th-century nobility, culture and traditions of the lake.

But it is also the perfect place to depart, once again aboard a boat, and continue your journey amongst the beautiful villas of Lake Maggiore.

So, embark once more to enjoy the 25-minute crossing of the Borromeo Gulf, which will take you straight to Pallanza and the beautiful Villa Taranto.

Pallanza: the most beautiful garden in the world

Of course, once you have landed in Pallanza, you may want to visit some of its palaces and monuments. And rightly so because between the old Palazzo del Pretorio, the 16th-century church of San Lorenzo, the Cadorna mausoleum and the 18th-century Palazzo Dugnani, you are spoilt for choice.

In reality, however, in Pallanza there is no choice since this summer and winter resort is home to what the BuzzFeed website has voted nothing less than the most beautiful garden in the world.

We are talking, of course, about Villa Taranto and its 16 hectares of enchanting terraced gardens, which in fine weather blossom into a literal apotheosis of flowers and colours, destined to be admired by visitors from all over the world.

A true open-air work of art, created by a Scottish captain, a lover of botany and of Italy, who bought the estate in 1931 to transform it into an English garden containing thousands of plants and flowers from all over the world, some of them truly rare.

And if the building of the Villa cannot be visited due to it housing the prefecture, we assure you that its garden is certainly worth the ticket price in any case, also because therein, you can admire the “natural paintings” present in the beautiful building of the Erbario or stroll along the unmissable Viale delle Conifere, with more unique than rare specimens of conifers, or perhaps admire the Fontana dei Putti, with its sculptures and blooms that adorn it, or even “get lost” in the Labyrinth of Dahlie, with its 1700-plus flowering plants, and amongst the greenhouses, the water features and the thousand colours that will surround you.

In short, there is no better way to end – literally – your tour on a high note.

And then, once you have recovered from the excitement of this incomparable spectacle, simply return to the Navigazione Laghi boat (which will be waiting for you punctually at the dock) and, during the return crossing to Stresa, think back in satisfaction on your day, lulled by the calm waters of Lake Maggiore.


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