After staying at Lake Garda we bypassed Lake Como and headed to Lake Maggiore. We decided not to stay at Lake Como as we were looking for a more relaxed stay in a more rural setting. Rob found us the most picturesque Airbnb accommodation overlooking Lake Maggiore in a small hilltop village area called Meina. We would have to say this was a very authentic stay as the drive up the steep hillside switch-back curvy roads were truly built for Italian drivers.
Slightly hair raising to say the least. Then Rob had to navigate our tiny car which felt like a tank through the narrow old town lanes, which were so narrow you felt like the stone building were going to fall in on you. At the quaint town centre at the top of the mountain range our host met us to show us to his property.
Following him onto dirt roads we realised we probably did needed a 4WD. Making a steep decent into his narrow cliffside driveway is something that need not be repeated!!!! Why would anyone want to live here … putting yourself through such a hair raising drive – a little like doing the , ‘ Walk of the Gods’ track on the Amalfi Coast came to mind from the beginning of our holiday. That’s right we were back in Italy. But once we stepped out of the car and made you way through the garden, we stood looking at the most breathtaking views of Lake Maggiore.
Roses lined the stunning panoramic view. The garden filled with a huge billowing shady tree with a swing chair, outdoor spa bath and a stone table.
Inside was just as rustic.
We had wished for the authentic Italian stay and that is just what we received. Our hosts spoke very little English and we spoke no Italian. It was Rob’s French, lots of positive warm body language and google translator if we got really stuck. We were their first visitors from Australia!!! I think the drive in would scare any sane Australian off!!! Our hosts were very friendly and giving. Every second day we were spoilt with treats from their farm. There was a homemade apricot cake, homemade tomato sauce, jam, fresh garden grown tomatoes, zucchini’s, succulent lettuce, cucumbers and eggs. We ate like kings. Oh and there was fresh orange juice and enough coffee to keep Rob ecstatically happy!!!
They had two beautiful dogs that came to visit us. A 3 year old female boxer called Luce meaning bright or guiding light. She was a joy and loved to bring her ball down to play. They also had a small male dog who really just wanted lots of cuddles.
Our hosts lived above us and we got used to hearing the banter of the Italian language once again. They had a night away during our stay and we really missed hearing their beautiful language that would sing around us.
It was so hard to pull ourselves away from the serene views of the lake. Time was easily lost as we spent hours looking out at the tranquil lake and mountainous landscape. Once we arrived we were in no hurry to explore the lake below.
On our first full day we were lucky to be able to watch the annual acrobatic aerial spectator show from the garden. This is a huge event held each year. Hundreds of boats sail into fill the lake as spectators watch the skies above. We were in awe at the speed and skill involved in watching 9 jet planes wing on wing diving, swooping, plummeting towards the Earth, twisting and turning in an acrobatic aerial show that left us shivering at how close these planes flew. Synchronised flying at its best!!! No room for errors!
If these show off tricks weren’t enough just to add to the spectacular each plane would then drop different colours to light up the sky in a rainbow of colours. We had been lucky to have had front box seats with our hosts who were very proud Italians. As they should be.
That afternoon our host who was 80 took us for a walk down the steep hillside to visit all his farm animals. Let’s just say the slope made the walk a little challenging walking down hill on a narrow path, but if he could do it day in day out we needed to suck it up and get with the exercise program. We saw all the voluptuous vegetables thriving in the Mediterranean hillside soil. The Italians really do eat well when their gardens grow prize winning vegetables like these ones!!
We saw the goats which roam around the hillside. From our cottage we could hear their bells ringing as they wander around.
Then their were the 20 chickens who graced us with eggs every morning.
We thought we were done but we were surprised to then see a shed full of rabbits each with their own hutch.
And they even kept pigeons. They seemed pretty much self sufficient at being able to support themselves with vegetables and meat.
They had a beautiful mural painted on the side of their house.
There was one more pet who came to visit us. Every farmhouse needs a delightful cat.
We looked forward to our evening spa and glass of wine looking out over the lake. Our dinner each evening was full of many farm fresh vegetables. We were blessed with spectacular warm days during our 6 night stay by twice at night we got quiet heavy storms. Or car was covered in debris after each storm which we had to literally pluck off the car.
During our stay we enjoyed various outings to Stresa, the Island of Bella, the Scared Mountain of Orta, Lake d’Orta, the Island of d’ Orta. We have written about these in separate posts. On our last day we headed down to one of the local pretty towns on the lake front called Arona. It is a lot less touristy than Stresa which caters for a moneyed up holiday crowd. We wandered along Arona’s pretty promenade which looked out onto Lake Maggiore. Vibrant red flowers spilled over the promenade archways making it very elaborate and elegant.
Rob spotted a family of swans with their fast growing cygnets. We have been fascinated all spring and summer madly watching the happenings and growth of ducks, swans and swamp hens. As we had observed both the male and female swan were closely following their large growing gang who had very fluffy grey feathers. Both parents guard their young closely in their first year of life.
A winner for Rob today as he also spotted the vibrant rooftops umbrellas hanging in the alleyway which we followed throughout the old town streets. Most of the shops were closed for lunch. Italian’s are sticklers for their long relaxing afternoon lunch breaks. This meant the alleyways were empty of people making it a peaceful place in the shade for us to stroll under the artwork of the umbrella canopies above. It was really like a movie set. Like looking through a child’s colourful kaleidoscope.
We ended our day out by driving to San Carlo Borromeo Statue which is a 23 metres high!! It is a beautiful giant statue made of copper that was erected between 1614 – 1698. You can climb the steep steps and ladder inside of the statue to stand inside his head and look out of his eyes.
We followed the narrow hilltop town roads back to our tranquil Airbnb. We stopped to check out the flowering fields which may have been full of elderflowers??? Then we collapsed in the swing chair overlooking the lake and mountains. Staying at Lake Maggiore was an extremely memorable and tranquil way for us to sadly finish our stay in Italy. We loved all three Italian lakes and we hope one day to return to see Lake Como.