The Italian Lake District stretches across Northern Italy. The land around the southern ends of most of the lakes is relatively flat (part of the River Po Plain), but the northern ends are mountainous, as the lakes reach deep into the Alps. Popular with Northern Europeans and Italians alike for over 100 years, the Italian Lakes combine good weather with attractive scenery. The climate is mild in both summer and winter, producing Mediterranean vegetation, with beautiful gardens growing rare and exotic plants.
Lake Maggiore, the longest of the Italian Lakes, is 65 km long, and has a surface area of 215 km2. It is 2.5 km wide on average, but double that near Luino. The lake’s jagged shores are surrounded by the Prealps of Piedmont and Lombardy. The western shore is in Piedmont (provinces of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola) and the eastern in Lombardy (province of Varese), while the northern section extends 13 km into Switzerland, where it constitutes the lowest point above sea-level in that entire country. Well-known gardens include those of the Isola Madre, Isola Bella and the Isole di Brissago (this one in the Swiss part of the lake), that of the Villa Taranto in Pallanza near Verbania, and the Alpinia botanical garden above Stresa. The Borromean Bay between Stresa and Verbania is blessed with the three Borromean Islands, which are not to be missed on a visit to Lake Maggiore; the island of Isola Bella is known for its baroque palace and gardens, Isola Pescatori for its fishing character with its typical lake boats, and the scenic Isola Madre is known for its gardens.
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