The area of the Borromean Gulf is bounded by that part of Lake Maggiore which extends from Stresa to Verbania and includes, in addition to the beautiful Borromean Islands, also the hills adjacent to Verbania.
The beauty of the area of the Borromean Gulf lies in the perfect union of art and nature. Man has known throughout the centuries how to construct wisely, adapting to the natural forms of the lake, its waters and shores.
The small towns of Baveno and Stresa are characterized by the luxury and elegance bestowed by the majestic villas that are located along this stretch of the shore line. The refined and romantic atmosphere which characterizes these "jewels" of Lake Maggiore, attract thousands of tourists each year from all over the world. In the heart of the Gulf, the three Borromean Islands, accessible by means of the Navigazione Lago Maggiore or by private motorboats, create an enchanting cornice of ageless charm.
A short distance away, the provincial capital, Verbania, is a bustling tourist centre, renowned for its nineteenth-century villas such as Villa S. Remigio, Villa Giulia and Villa Taranto, whose gardens are among the most famous and popular in Europe thanks to the beautiful floral scenes that characterize them.
Towards the hills which surround Verbania, one will discover dozens of small hamlets, each with the typical characteristics of mountain villages, with panoramic views of the Borromean Gulf and its islands.
From these high lying areas one arrives at the National Park of Val Grande: the largest wilderness area of the alpine area with the Museum of Water "Acquamondo" in Cossogno and the Casa del Parco at Cicogna.
The characteristic Lake of Mergozzo and the white marble quarries of Candoglia are close by.
Less than a half hour’s drive away, or by boat from Omegna, one can reach the enchanting Lake Orta, with the island of Saint Giulio.
For mountain lovers, nature trails are at Alpe Devero, Alpe Veglia, Valgrande and Val Formazza with the impressive waterfalls of the Toce. There are skiing facilities at Mottarone, Domobianca, Macugnaga, etc.
And for those seeking a relaxing holiday at Premia in the Valle Antigorio, one can enjoy the Thermal spa centre and wellness area.
Baveno is a town steeped with history, tradition and culture, with numerous archaeological, artistic and architectural legacies. From the findings dating back to the Neolithic age unearthed at Feriolo, an important and flourishing commercial port linking Ossolawiththe territories beyond the Alps to the major cities of Lombardy and the maritime centres of Venice and Genoa; to the signs of the Roman era documented by the headstones and the relics found in the necropolis with domestic and funerary furnishings, weapons, bronze and gold coins; to the Romanesque architecture in the beautiful cloisters of the Church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio built around the XI century and restored in the eighteenth century, of which only the facade of the original structure remains, including a remarkable fresco of Saint Christopher, and the Romanesque bell tower.
Instead, the Baptistery is a building dating back to the Renaissance period, an octagonal shape, with a frescoed dome from the sixteenth century.
FLOWERS AND GARDENS OF LAKE MAGGIORE
The camellia, a decorative plant of Japanese origin, finds an ideal climate and soil for growth on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Planted for the first time in 1828 on Isola Madre, thanks to the work of Milanese collectors, this flower has spread over the years throughout the entire lake area, beautifying the gardens of most villas and mansions.
In the entire territory of Lake Maggiore, one can admire this flower and discover its many varieties. The camellia, also known as Queen of the Lake, is now a characteristic feature of these lands and many appointments are dedicated to it, such as market shows, guided tours of the gardens of the villas and numerous exhibitions.
In every antique villa on Lake Maggiore, one will find secular camellia trees, planted in the nineteenth century, when the plant reached the peak of its success. A period of decline followed but in the second half of the twentieth century, many local botanists began to once again take interest in the cultivation of this plant.
In Verbania, the Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto hosts the most colourful blossoming of the more than 400 varieties of camellias. In Verbania one can also admire the giant camellia in the beautiful Villa San Remigio, on the hill of Castagnola.
No visit would be complete without a trip to the beautiful camellia garden on Isola Madre, the site which first hosted this wonderful plant.
The beautiful and renowned Alpinia Botanical Garden is situated in the gracious little town of Alpino, between the towns of Stresa and Gignese. Thanks to its exceptional panorama, which extends from the Borromean Gulf to the chain of the Swiss Alps, Alpino, from the mid-nineteenth century became an important tourist destination for many European aristocrats and artists who found inspiration for their works.