Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Wed August 26 2015

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  • Worldwide Scott | August 26, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    5 Reasons Why Lake Maggiore May Be Right For You

    5 Reasons Why Lake Maggiore May Be Right For You

    Photos by Worldwide Scott

    Mention to people that you're heading to the Italian Lakes, and you'll typically end up hovering over them after they swoon and faint. While you're fanning their face in a frantic attempt to revive them, most will groggily come to, slowly open their eyes, gaze up at you, and then mutter something along the lines of "isn't that where George Clooney has a house?" or "that's where the real Bellagio is, right?”  You'll proudly answer in the affirmative to their inquiries, and they then usually make a full recovery from there. 

    Yes, to say that people have a romantic vision of this slice of Europe is putting things very, very lightly indeed.

    Well, I just got back from my first trip to one of the Italian Lakes, Lake Maggiore, and I have to say that I almost fainted. Yep, I loved it that much. 

    Here are some of the main reasons why. 

    1. The Mountain Surrounds

    Technically speaking, lakes don't have to be encircled by jagged green mountains in order to take your breath away, but it definitely helps. The mountains that surround Lake Maggiore will do just that, and in addition to serving as beautiful backdrops, they also offer recreation opportunities like hiking, funicular riding, and alpine sliding. The sun popping out over the mountains at sunrise or sinking below the mountains at sunset is a remarkable sight as well.

    2. The Grand Stresa Hotel(s)

    I haven't been to many places in the world where the hotels themselves steal the show, but the lodging lining the lakefront in Stresa, near where we stayed, was red-carpet-ravishing. Vintage glitz oozed from both the architecture and the names of these places, seemingly frozen in a bygone era of Rat-Pack-esque Italian film stars. The Grand Hotel Des Isles Borromees, Regina Palace, The Astoria, Grand Hotel Bristol, all had me reaching for my camera, and even the budget-friendly joint we stayed at up the road sounded luxurious: The Beau Rivage.

    3.  Beautiful Borromeans

    The Borromean Islands reside just off the shore of Lake Maggiore, and are true jewels, making a day trip out to see them a must while visiting Lake Maggiore. Isola Bella shines with a palace and lush sculpted gardens, Isola Madre is home to acres of green space and nature, while Isola dei Pescatori is home to a traditional fishing village. Ferries are available to reach the islands from Stresa; just look for the guys wearing skipper hats and striped shirts lurking (in a friendly way) around the dock.

    4. Bar Clipper

    When you are staying at a town on the lake, you have to have a drink by the water, right? Of course. The only problem with having drinks in a tourist town is that many establishments are high on price but low on character. Bar Clipper, on the other hand, is full of character, which likely comes from its location inside the Baveno Ferry terminal. No frills, but still able to whip up a refreshing Aperol Spritz. Sipping a drink here while the breezes blow in off the lake is pure bliss.

    5.  Border Hopping

    Most of Lake Maggiore resides in Italy, but a large chunk of the top of lake is actually in Switzerland. This makes for a truly international experience, and the drive along the west coast of the lake from Italy into Switzerland is a great way to spend an afternoon. The teal blue water of the lake lapping up against Swiss shores full of cypress shrubbery is spectacular and will have you re-thinking your preconceived notions of what Switzerland looks like. 

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Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
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