180 million years ago, in the Triassic era, Italy was submerged under the Tethys Ocean, and situated close to the equator.
This shallow and tropical sea had warm, crystal clear waters, with islands and coral reefs occasionally breaking its surface.
As time passed, the waters started to recede. Ice ages came one after the other, and the rising land was carved and shaped by glaciers.
So here we are, 180 million years later, looking at a place where there was once a tropical sea. We’re at Lake Maggiore.
Nestled in the foothills of the Alps, its waters reach depths of 370 metres, and it’s surrounded on all sides by ancient woodlands, scented vegetation, rocks, stony beaches, houses, castles and magnificent gardens.
We want to travel the entire length of its coast. At 170km long, it crosses the borders of Italy and Switzerland, and it’s full of myths, legends, hidden places and hints of its incredible past.
DAY 2 of 2 – 286 km
Milan Lake Maggiore (Leggiuno Punta Granelli Caldè Cannero Isola dei Pescatori) Milan
DAY 2 of 2 / Chapter 1 of 4 – Italy
Milan Lake Maggiore (Leggiuno) – 77 km
We find ourselves entering into a story that has been passed down through the centuries, a story that teeters between truth and legend.
“It was the year 1170. A greedy money lender called Alberto Besozzi was navigating the waters of Lake Maggiore in his boat. He was returning from the market at Lesa with some friends when something unexpected happened that changed his life”.
READ CHAPTER 1/4: DISCOVER THE HISTORICAL SITES OF THE EREMO DI SANTA CATERINA DEL SASSO
DAY 2 of 2 / Chapter 2 of 4 – Italy
Lake Maggiore (Leggiuno) Lake Maggiore (Punta Granelli) – 11 km
As we make our way around the lake, we pass through several different villages. But we want to be in contact with nature, so we dismiss them in favour of the little coves and shingle beaches.
READ CHAPTER 2/4: DISCOVER ALL THE STONES BEACH
DAY 2 of 2 / Chapter 3 of 4 – Italy
Lake Maggiore (Punta Granelli) Lake Maggiore (Caldè) – 2 km
There are some places in the world that have a magic about them. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the depths of a forest or city, in the desert, or on an island in the middle of an ocean, what matters is that you can feel a special, palpable, brilliant energy.
We’re looking for magic places, and we might have found them at Lake Maggiore.
We’re in Caldè, one of the many small villages that sit on the edges of the lake. We leave the small town behind us, and join a path that runs along the coastline of Lake Maggiore.
READ CHAPTER 3/4: DISCOVER GRAFFITI ART IN AN ABANDONED FACTORY
DAY 2 of 2 / Chapter 4 of 4 – Italy
Lake Maggiore (Caldè) Lake Maggiore (Cannero Isola dei Pescatori) Milano – 196 km
Lake Maggiore has 9 islands. Some are inhabited, like Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island); others are only the size of a rock, or a castle that occupies it completely, like on the Isola dei Castelli di Cannero (island of the Cannero castles).
The Isola dei Pescatori, with its fishermen’s village, is the one that attracts us the most.
Ferry and speedboat services enable visitors to reach all of the islands and explore the length and breadth of Lake Maggiore.
READ CHAPTER 4/4: DISCOVER THE COUNTRY LIFE ON THE ISOLA DEI PESCATORI