In ancient Celtic language “ver” means large and “benn” means container. Precisely the meaning of the name Verbano or Lake Maggiore is a large container of water (with more than 200 square kilometres of surface area between Italy and Switzerland) the largest lake in Italy after Garda Lake. The northern part, which correspond to the least inhabited part of the province of Varese, is dominated by Luino, a town where several valleys meet, descending sharply from the bordering peaks above 1600 metres until they sink into the fresh water of the lake. Tourists visit the nearby refurbished lakeside, the fifteenth century church of Carmine which stands by the lake and reflects the sunset on the water, the ancient weekly market held on Wednesdays that people make the trip to visit from even as far as Germany from spring to autumn. Luino and the lake inspired Piero Chiara’s novels and the movies based on. A real urban jewel, envied for the geographical position that protects it from the northerly winds (even olive and lemon trees grow here), is Maccagno, even further north, that lies in Val Veddasca. A contemporary art museum lies on the Giona river.
THAT COAST OF MAGGIORE LAKE
Signs of Franz Josef’s military presence still survive in Laveno, even incorporated into private houses. Ferries for Verbania leave from here, as do the ones for Santa Caterina del Sasso, a symbol of the provinces’ tourism in summertime. It is a collection of buildings belonging to the Low Middle Ages, built over on the lake (and right under the rocky cliff), around the body of the blessed Alberto Besozzi, a greedy merchant who vowed to change his life if he was saved from a storm that bit his ship. His hermitage was created thanks to that “miracle”. It is now the most visited monument in Varesotto together with the Santa Maria del Monte Sanctuary above Varese. Further south, we meet Ranco with its small harbour, Angera with its famous medieval castle open to the public, Sesto Calende where the lake become narrow and takes on the form of a river, the Ticino. An orderly line of popular tourist resorts, along with glimpses of beautiful landscapes, where the blue water and the sky mix with the green meadows, woods and terraces where man once again – like he did in the not too distant past – is cultivating vines to produce the providence of Varese’s first DOC vine.
But Lago Maggiore and Varese area is much more…stay tuned!
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