Subject: Lake Maggiore
Clear Day. We have now returned from a two week stay at Stresa on Lake Maggiore. We enjoyed good weather and experienced only two rainy days. We found the holiday very relaxing and liked it so much we have decided to return to Stresa next September, spending a week there and then we will transfer to Locarno at the Swiss end of the lake for the second week. We stayed at the Regina Palace Hotel and were pleased with our choice. It is in the town, across the road from the lake, as are all the other hotels in the town. We were not disturbed by traffic noise and particularly enjoyed sitting on our balcony watching the world go by .

I noted the comment by one ziner who said she had been so disconcerted by the boatmen touting for business that she had left Stresa and gone to Baveno for some peace. I can only say that these chaps are quite polite and do not hassle you once you shake your head or say no. We had absolutely no problem and used the normal ferry service to get about on the lake. I must speak up for Stresa. If you like strolling around narrow little streets looking at all kinds of shops and then sitting having coffee in the square then you will like Stresa. We thought it was a charming little town. Thanks to Paolo for the restaurant tips.We ate at Osteria Amici quite a few times..simple but good food.

We did quite a few excursions to places around the lake. We particularly enjoyed our day on Lake Orta. We went to Omegna by coach in the morning on market day. We always enjoy these local occasions...and I always succumb to buying leather. After a great lunch at Bianca Croce hotel, we took the boat to the small island, Isola San Giulio to visit the basilica, lovely but crowded. back then to Orta San Giulio for coffee and the trip back to Stresa. We would have liked to have spent more time in this village where there is s pretty square dominated by the 16th century Palazzotto, where I understand art exhibitions are held.I noticed a small hotel right on the lake that looked good for a short stay. It was called Albergo Orta. Another like it was called Leon D'oro.

Much closer to Stresa are the lovely Borromean Islands with frequent services by ferry. We ate on Isola de Pescatori much more than one and also visited Isola Bella... what can one say about the wonderful gardens and the views ...and that is without the palace. I must confess that when we really love a place we always leave some parts untouched for our next visit and this time we left a proper tour of the palace plus visits to Isola madre and Villa Taranto for next year's trip. We did visit Pallanza and Intra, the latter trip to visit the busy market held on Saturday morning. Now to Milan. We took an excursion by coach and visited the awesome Duomo which was so impressive that we sat in a pew for a long time trying to digest the splendour of this cathedral. We had intended to visit La Scala, but we were unable to get in as there was a rehearsal in progress...so that will be for the next visit. We particularly enjoyed our stop at the cimeterio monumentale which contains the graves of some of Milan's most famous residents. However, it is not just that illustrious people such as Toscanini are interred there, but the overwhelming number of lavish monuments, obelisks, temples, enormous statues etc. next time we will buy a book and spend a much longer time there. We are really interested in cemeteries and this one is one of the best. Next a word of warning to all those ziners who want to visit Leonardo's last Supper. We went on the offchance without booking and found out that it is so popular that forward booking is absolutely essential. Our friend in Milan rang and rang. The number is always busy and when she finally got through we could not get a booking for the days on which we would be in Milan. So that is another experience for our next visit.

At the Swiss end of the lake we visited Locarno and Ascona, but were not in either place long enough to explore them properly. Ascona is very upmarket, lots of bijou shops selling expensive clothes. However, the lakeside is most attractive with plenty of moderately priced restaurants. We travelled from Stresa by the small train that goes through the mountains. You change trains at Domodossola for this trip. It is obviously a very popular journey as the train was absolutely full. It is certainly worth the effort because the scenery was wonderful. Next time we will travel from Locarno to Bellinzona which has been recommended by Don and Linda and by some of my own friends who have said not to miss it.

I do hope I have not bored you all but I felt I had to share some of the enjoyment we experienced. I have always said I could never imagine that Lake Maggiore could possibly be as good as Lake Como. I now think our holidays on these lakes have been about equal in enjoyment. I cannot say that Lake Garda makes me feel the same way. ...but others may feel differently. Now I am back in London and dreaming of our next trip to Italy. Ciao

Ann speakman