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Lake Maggiore or Lago Verbàno is a large lake located on the south side of the Alps. It is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy and the Swiss canton of Ticino. Located halfway between Lake Orta and Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore extends for about 65 kilometres (40 miles) between Locarno and Arona.
Lake Maggiore extends from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland far into the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Thanks to its mild climate, there is lush, Mediterranean vegetation along its shores. In the hinterland is a wild and romantic mountain landscape with breathtaking views.
The pleasure boats on Lake Maggiore serve not only Locarno, Ascona and Brissago but also smaller places around the lake and they also cross the border to serve the Italian side.
The easiest way to discover this charming region is by the Lake Maggiore Express, a combination of train and boat. The narrow-gauge railway goes from Locarno through the Centovalli – the valley of a hundred valleys – to Domodossola in Italy. After a short walk or lunch, your tour continues to Stresa, back by Lake Maggiore. From here you go by boat – with a few stops – back to Locarno. As well as the Centovalli, numerous other valleys lead back from the lake into the hinterland of the Tessin, including the wild and romantic Verzasca valley or the Maggia valley. There are also numerous walks along the Gambarogno Riviera on the opposite side of the lake from Locarno and Ascona.
The Brissago Islands
The Brissago Islands are one of Ticino’s most magical places – a small subtropical paradise on Lake Maggiore that is easily accessible by boat. Thanks to their location, the islands benefit from a particularly mild climate that has facilitated the growth of unique vegetation. Recalling enchanted atmospheres, the landscape is covered in rare majestic trees, luxuriant shrubs, ferns and scented flowers. Over 1,600 species of plants from the Mediterranean region, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania populate the park.
The Island to visit is the Isola Grande (Big Island), also known as San Pancrazio. Particularly striking are the areas with the Roman baths, the panoramic viewpoint at the extremity of the island, the thick reed grove and the small beach. The excursion allows visitors to walk through typical habitats from the Australian, Asian and African continents and, not to be missed, the section reserved for Mediterranean vegetation. Also in the park are species typical of the Insubrica region that have been planted or have grown naturally. The park covers a surface of 25,000 square meters and is home to over 1,600 species of flora, often unique in Switzerland.
The smaller of the islands called Isola di Sant’Apollinare o Isola dei conigli (Saint Appollinare Island or Rabbits’ Island) is not open to the public. It presents native vegetation and conserves the ruins of an ancient church.
The Alpe di Neggia
Alpe di Neggia is a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. It connects Vira and Indemini. The pass lies in the saddle between Monte Tamaro and Monte Gambarogno. The maximum grade of the pass road is 12 percent.