Here are some postcards of Lake Maggiore. Between Lombardy and Piedmont, the lake, which is located Northwest of Milan, is 65 kilometers long and 372 meters deep (which terrified my children, from whom I had hidden this information in front of their happy faces at the idea of diving into the lake).

Otherwise called Lake Verbano – because of the verbena that once grew on its shores – Lake Maggiore has long ensured the prosperity of the region thanks to the fishing in the lake, the marble from the nearby quarries sent to the construction sites of the Milan cathedral and the Pavia charterhouse, and to the maritime trade line that has linked the lake since Roman times to the Adriatic Sea, via the Tassin river, Pavia and the Po river.

Marked by the presence of great Lombard families, mainly the Visconti and the Borromeo, Lake Maggiore became at the beginning of the 19th century the favorite vacation spot for the upper class and the nobility, certainly Italian but also European.

Steam navigation, which was introduced there in 1826, ensured great tourist success to its shores and islands – the best known of which are the Borromean Islands.

Beautiful villas and luxury hotels adorn the shores of the lake and the botanical gardens flourish both on the shores (Alpinia gardens in Stresa, Taranto gardens in Verbania) and on the islands (Isola Madre), thanks to a mild weather.

Queen Victoria and then Winston Churchill may have visited Lake Maggiore, but those whose names will forever be attached to the place are artists, including Stendhal, Hemingway and Toscanini.

Stendhal, the French writer in love with Italy, will be inspired by Lake Maggiore and Lake Como to write his novel “The Charterhouse of Parma”.

Ernest Hemingway, as a young soldier wounded on the Italian front, was convalescing there in 1918. He will be inspired by Lake Maggiore to write his heartbreaking “Farewell to Arms”.

Arturo Toscanini, the great Italian conductor, lived from 1927 to 1952 in the mansion on Isolino di San Giovanni.

The dramas of the WWII that marked the lake and inspired Mort Shuman and Etienne Roda-Gil to write the sad song “Le Lac Majeur” are now forgotten.

Only calm and voluptuousness remain.

August 18, 2023