Lake Maggiore, Italy

Living on Lake Maggiore

Iyna Bort Caruso

The 19th century French writer Stendhal once said, “If you had a heart and a shirt, you would sell your shirt and visit Lake Maggiore."  

Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake, is located on the south side of the Alps, an easy one-hour train ride from Milan and less than 10 miles from Malpensa Airport. The lakeshore and its islands cover towns in Italy’s Piedmont and Lombardy regions and extend into Switzerland. A network of ferries provides access to clusters of picturesque villages.

The glacial lake first became a popular getaway destination for the wealthy in the 19th century. The influx of visitors and vacation homeowners jumped after the opening of the Simplon Railway tunnel in 1906, which offered a shortcut between Italy and Switzerland beneath an alpine pass.

Lake Maggiore is famous for its lavish gardens and for its abundance of activities. Hiking, biking, golf, horseback riding and sailing are part of the lake region lifestyle.

The area has a base of international holiday homeowners as well as weekend homeowners from Milan. For investors, proximity to the ski slopes of Italy, Switzerland and France makes it a strong, four-season rental market.

Buyers are drawn to restored and modernized villas with historical value. Villages are sprinkled with fine examples of Art Nouveau-style residences. Hillside mansions and lakeside estates are particularly coveted. 

Stresa is an enchanting town that evokes the spirit of the Belle Époque era.

Some call Stresa the “Grande Dame” of the lake. Galleries, cafes and well-known music festivals have made it a draw for aristocracy, artists and general aficionados of the good life. 

Along with the nearby resort town of Verbania, the largest on the lake, Stresa overlooks the Borromean Islands. This mini archipelago features palazzo and exotic gardens set among jaw-dropping beauty. 

Explore luxury real estate on Lake Maggiore