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Islands in full bloom and Mediaeval villages - Lake Maggiore in Piedmont by bike

A ride around the Piedmont shores of Lake Maggiore and its many facets: five different routes all sharing slow rhythms and green souls.

Cycling around the Piedmont shores of Lake Maggiore reveals elegant lakeside promenades, Mediaeval villages, sanctuaries and abbeys, islands in full bloom and nature reserves: five different slow routes with a green soul to discover all these features. Some of the closing stages of the Giro d'Italia will pass through these areas.

 

1. Stresa-Arona circuit

 

Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore - Piedmont

Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore

The elegant towns of Stresa and Arona and the enchanting archipelago of the Borromean Islands are the heart of this 40-km circuit in one of the most beautiful areas of Lake Maggiore. Start and finish in Stresa, with its elegant lakefront, historic villas and gardens in bloom. In Arona, don't miss a trip up to Sacro Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to admire the Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo - a gigantic statue dedicated to the Saint known affectionately to local people as Il Sancarlone. Riding along the lake shores, you will come across other delightful places such as Belgirate, Lesa, Meina and Nebbiuno. This itinerary is easy going and highly recommend all year round.

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2. Tour of Lake Orta

 

Orta San Giulio, Lake Orta - Piedmont

Orta San Giulio, Lake Orta

A 35 km circuit around Lake Orta, to enjoy all its charming scenery. Starting from (and returning to) Gozzano, we head towards Valsesia, along the Omegna lakefront as far as Orta San Giulio, one of the finest villages in Italy, with Sacro Monte (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the XIX-century, Moorish-style Villa Crespi. The view from here sweeps across the tiny island of San Giulio, almost entirely occupied by the Basilica of the same name and the Benedictine Abbey of Mater Ecclesiae. Along the way, it is well worth visiting the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso, standing on a theatrical granite cliff jutting out over the lake. The itinerary is open all year round.

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3. The Toce Cycle Way

 

Vogogna. Photo by: Steve Pez / Shutterstock.com

This route along the banks of the Toce, the main river crossing the Ossola Valley entirely from north to south, can be enjoyed all year round. The starting point is Domodossola, the largest town in the valley itself. You can visit the beautiful historic centre and the monumental complex of Sacro Monte Calvario, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Exclusively following cycle paths along the river, we continue for almost 30 km to the Mediaeval village of Vogogna, one of the finest in Italy, with the Visconteo Castle, the Rocca and the Palazzo Pretorio, where the route ends. A part of the area around the village is included in the Val Grande National Park, a protected nature reserve.

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4. Among the flowers of Lake Maggiore

 

Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto, Verbania - Piedmont

Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto, Verbania

A fragrant itinerary open all year round crossing the areas where the typical flowers of Lake Maggiore are grown - such as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias, with their infinite colour shades. The pedestrian and cycle paths flanking the River Toce amidst lush vegetation home to wild rabbits take us to the protected Special Canneto di Fondotoce Nature Reserve. We recommend taking a break on the quiet adjacent beach before continuing along the canal connecting Lake Mengozzo and Lake Maggiore. We arrive in Verbania, the main town. Here, you should visit the Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens and other historic mansions.

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5. Druogno-Re “Pineta” Route in Val Vigezzo

 

Re Sanctuary - Piedmont

Re Sanctuary

This is the main cycle route (out of 15) along the Vigezzo Valley, a corridor in the woods between Ossola and Ticino at 800 metres above sea level in the broader Ossola Valley. It crosses a lush, green landscape with waterfalls and characteristic bridges, such as the stone bridge at Pozzo Maglione, as far as the Shrine of the Virgin Mary in Re, where the route ends. The valley is known for its ancient tradition of chimney sweeps: there is a museum dedicated to them in Santa Maria Maggiore, where every September the National Chimney Sweeps Association organizes a get together. It also boasts a long-standing artistic tradition that sees it given the name of Painters' Valley. The best time for a visit is from April to October.

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