A place characterized by different territories: the majesty of the valleys and mountains, the elegance and the enchantment of the lake. Verbania combines all these elements in itself. The city overlooks the Piedmontese shore of Lake Maggiore and juts out, almost dominating this lake to which it owes its name. Lake Maggiore is in fact also known by the name of Verbano.
It may seem strange but Verbania, actually, took the title of city just ten years ago, and was born less than a century ago, in 1939, from the union of the municipalities of Intra and Pallanza. Verbania unites these two centers through the Castagnola Promontory on which stands a place that has made it literally “a garden on the lake”. It is the Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto, a botanical garden that for richness and variety of species is considered the most important arboretum in Italy, and among the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. It was created on the idea of a botanical enthusiast, the Scotsman Neil Boyd McEacharn, who began to renovate the Villa (formerly Villa La Crocetta) in 1931, renaming it Villa Taranto in memory of an ancestor who had been awarded the title of Duke of Taranto by Napoleon Bonaparte. The gardens cover an area of about 16 hectares and are home to more than twenty thousand rare species. Visiting them during the opening seasons you can immerse yourself among camellias, lotus flowers, tulips and magnolias being flooded with colors and scents. The villa is now the seat of the prefecture of the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (VCO), of which Verbania is the capital.
Remaining in the naturalistic field, an uncontaminated area where you can meet different species of animals is the Nature Reserve of Fondotoce, in fact there are many birds nesting among the reeds. The Reserve is located on the final stretch of the Toce River that flows into the Borromeo Gulf where the archipelago of the Borromean Islands, the real jewel of Lake Maggiore, is located. Isola Madre, Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, which form the archipelago, are considered among the most spectacular and elegant Italian wonders (as well as Piedmontese, of course), internationally renowned, so that in 2019 The New York Times has counted them among the ten most fascinating places in the world. The noble Borromeo family became the owner of the islands during the 14th century, and still today the Isola Madre and Isola Bella are their property. Isola dei Pescatori (or Isola Superiore) is the only one that is permanently inhabited.
In the territory of Verbania are hidden some of the most beautiful villas in Piedmont, such as Villa Giulia (in neoclassical style) and Villa San Remigio (in Neapolitan Baroque style) which is located at the highest point of the Castagnola promontory, inside a large park, bordered to the south by the Romanesque church of San Remigio, and to the north by the gardens of Villa Taranto. Important monuments are the Church of Madonna di Campagna and the Basilica of San Vittore, in Intra.
And let’s move to Intra where it is a must to taste the Intresine, the typical cookies with almonds and hazelnuts. Two other stops in the province are highly recommended: Stresa, both to taste its Margheritine (the cookies in honor of Queen Margherita di Savoia) and to stroll along its elegant lakeside promenade; and Mergozzo, overlooking the lake of the same name, with its sweet focaccia known as Fugascina di Mergozzo.
Cheese, cold cuts, honey and wine can always be found on the tables of the VCO territory. Bettelmatt and other cheeses from these areas of Lake Maggiore, accompanied also by honey such as the particular Honey of Lime and Millefiori can also come on your tables simply by shop on Piedmont Delights, the first e-commerce dedicated to Piedmont food & wine. Let’s not forget the valleys surrounding Verbania, in the Ossola valley the production of dried meat has always been a feather in the cap.
In Piedmont you can immerse yourself in these flavors, between land and water, between its valleys and lakes, and if at this point you cannot wait a minute more to enjoy all this, now you can do it on Piedmont Delights.