Friday, 30 November 2012

Belgirate-Lake Maggiore | Magic Views Across a Stylish Promenade.


Belgirate is a splendid town of Lake Maggiore, a fabulous destination highlighted by magic views across a stylish promenade, one of the most captivating attractions of that enchanting resort of Piedmont located on the western shore of that marvellous waters basin considered one of the most fascinating of the world.

That more than attractive and picturesque municipality transmitting all its true fascination with a charm unique in its kind with its approximately 550 inhabitants lies on a small headland in strategic geographic point in which that lake forms a gentle curve dominated by the Motta Rossa which with its 690,0 metres is one of the high hills of the Vergante.

That charming high plateau, a former sub-province of the region is a very attractive territory with a magnificent natural frame inf the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola  entirely crossed by the the Simplon Road also known as Strada Statale del Sempione.

That long artery which was established between 1801 and 1805 by the French engineer Nicolas Ceárd , a work commissioned by Napoléon Bonaparte focused to facilitate the transport of artillery from the Rhône Valley to Italy through the Swiss Lepontine and Pennine Alps,ending in the city of Milan through the Swiss Lepontine and Pennine Alps.

Bordered at north by the municipal boundaries of the superb Stresa, denominated the pearl of the Verbano and on its southern side by the captivating small town of Lesa which boasts a charming promontory offering panoramic views absolutely outstanding.


The natural splendid position of that shining jewel is furthermore highlighted by a beautiful ample opening of the Verbano, other denomination of Lake Maggiore facing the other radiant lake shore with the towns of Leggiuno and Monvalle, two captivating resorts on the eastern coastline corresponding to the province of Varese in the Region Lombardy.

Belgirate is undoubtedly a place able to transmit very inspiring feelings for its very appealing picture it shows in a while entering in its boundaries because it is  practically the first gate to admire those magic images represented by the wonderful Archipelago Borromeo formed by those magnificent islands called Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola Pescatori.

Those attractions are a must and mandatory to visit in a magnificent romantic and divine cruise during a stay  highly recommended to all people who want to be delighted by something of simply unforgettable in a dreamland able to conquer everyone with the chance to take a boat form the local, scenic harbour.

Not far from Arona, one of the most populated centres of that idyllic lake situated in the lower southwestern arm Belgirate is reachable in less than half hour driving from that important town well known for its beautiful lake side promenade, lively nightlife, Hotels and for the special attraction consisting in the scenic meeting of the Ticino river with Lake Maggiore.

The entrance  of Belgirate boundaries is by a striking coastal stretch along  the Strada Statale 33 a section of the mentioned Simplon Road which runs along a ravishing coastline showing you all its beauty in a while.

You can admire in stunning kilometres several aristocratic mansions, stylish villas boasting stunning gardens which are part of the unique patrimony of that Paradise, one of the most shimmering Italian diamonds, a tourist Eden which bewitches every visitor as for an enchantment and it is not a coincidence that wonder was elevated as a top destination and tourism leader in Italy and Europe since the times of the iconic Grand Tour.

Closely related to that is not a case that many prominent figures on their way to the most famed destinations Stresa and Baveno stopped in Belgirate to admire that small, picturesque site simply astonished in front of that heaven.

Among those characters worth to be mentioned illustrious names, all them eminent figures,  exponents of the highest artistic and cultural spheres of different historic periods.

Simply to remember which kind of figures that resort was able to enchant despite the list is pretty long but worth to be mentioned some of them such as  Marie-Henri Beyle well known as Stendhal, Alessandro Manzoni,  Massimo D´Azeglio, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Gustave Flaubert, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wagner, Giovanni Verga, Arturo Toscanini,  Antonio Fogazzaro, Antonio Rosmini, Thomas Mann, Bernard Shaw and Richard Strauss among others.

All those distinguished artists with immense pleasure spent some days in that centre  totally enchanted by the incomparable appeal of that place bathed by divine blue waters with just some metres towards the immediate inland picturesque hills forming an environment highly inspiring, a perfect environment to create some outstanding musical works or literary masterpieces.

A special detail which always attracted a multitude of people representing an eternal stunning feature of Belgirate is that of stupendous sunsets on those sinuous curves in that point of that wonderful lake.

The colours, contrasts of lights next to the striking views of the silhouette of the coastal villages on the same and opposite shore always charm everyone transmitting deepest feelings you are in a fairytale Eden.

It is honestly very easy to love a place like that which is furthermore delighted by a magnificent cool evening breeze which creates a unique, sublime atmosphere.

It is enough a short stop of just some minutes along the local, captivating promenade to appreciate all that staying in contemplation for hours also admiring the small but enchanting bay of Belgirate to understand how nature was so generous with that beautiful site.

The spectacular landscapes offering astonishing images found to increase their appeal a loyal allied in a mild climate all year which apart to delight millions of visitors has created a lush Mediterranean vegetation scattered all around the municipal boundaries.

That is certainly another relevant detail of a superb frame of a land with total absence of contamination due to the lack of industries an aspect which makes Belgirate also a great climatic destination since many decades ago.

Its tiny but more than captivating historic centre is another marvellous attraction practically unaltered with a greatly preserved, former medieval attractive architecture consisting in splendid narrow streets,scenic, winding alleys flanking beautiful, restored houses with charming courtyards and gardens.

A further, unforgettable highlight is the presence of steps leading to the upper agglomeration of the municipality on which the bell tower of its old Church dominates an inspiring, unique scenery, another very significant picture able to capture in just some seconds the attention of a visitor who starts to love that site at first sight.


A good range of comfortable, fully equipped accommodations as Hotels also ideal to host conventions, conferences and meetings is a very inviting and perfect proposal for that niche of tourism well known as MICE, ideal for companies and associations which are searching a wonderful environment offering superb facilities and services  to plan their successful operations choosing a right destination.

Next to those establishments ample is the offer consisting in private apartments and houses to rent for individuals and couples  who want to spend a relaxing, romantic stay, the major part of therm located in a magnificent position offering striking panoramic lake views which represent a magic potion to start a day with energy and enthusiasm delighted by images very difficult to forget.

Excellent restaurants offering a delectable regional and national cuisine next to the high sense of hospitality of the locals are other wonderful qualities which attract many travellers in a choice more than perfect to spend unique stays satisfying them most demanding palates enjoying every day exquisite delights and feeling that you are more than welcome are definitely more than pleasant sensations.

The wonderful communications also play an important role, in just some minutes from that resort you can reach all the most important resorts of Lake Maggiore and continuing along the national road you will be in Switzerland with the chance to admire its jewels on that basin water such as Ascona and Locarno. (I wrote posts regarding those two places in the case you are interested)

In just one hour by motorway you can reach Milan, the 2nd Italian city, ideal destination to admire a wide variety of historic monuments, museums,well known for a rich cultural calendar, a vibrant nightlife, so famed in addition to be an international hub linked to the most trendy design and shopping.

The stunning Lake Como is approximately at the same distance by motorway while the splendid Turin the 4th centre of Italy, capital of the Region and former Capital of the Kingdom once ruled by the House of Savoy is at just 110,0 kilometres away. 

In addition very suggested are other superb excursions as the Alpine valleys of Valsesia, Val Vigezzo, Val Formazza and Val d´Ossola magnificent sites highly recommended for trekkers and skiing lovers thanks to the presence of famed centres such as Macugnaga and Alagna Valsesia.

Those two resorts apart their stunning natural beauty are located at the foot of the 2nd giant of the Alps, the legendary Monte Rosa, very popular winter sports destination resorts offering the best in terms of accommodations, services, facilities and leisure.

All that vast fan of options is simply great to be delighted by a complete tourism, many are also the chances to practise outdoor activities such as water sports, sailing, rowing, windsurfing, diving and Belgirate regarding all that boasts a long, prestigious tradition.

 All that area is loved by a multitude cyclists and mountain bikers because it is a territory with several excellent routes, stupendous itineraries of superb fascination as the always appealing Mottarone climb and in addition that land is a Mecca for passionate photographers also for its striking biodiversity.


That resort is more than appropriate for romantic people, active tourists, families with children visitors who love art, history, architecture with many medieval, Liberty, Baroque and Renaissance gems scattered everywhere including in the smallest hamlets and villages. 

Belgirate is furthermore since a long time ago a stunning destination for those who desire holidays full of peace, tranquillity, relaxation returning home with the batteries totally recharged.

All that large list of considerable opportunities, wide fan of option and wonderful features are certainly a more than inviting for Travel Companies with creative plans and ample horizon views ready to develop attractive proposals.

That incredible variety of chances is simply perfect for all those specialists who have brilliant, defined targets to create several outgoing packages rich of solutions because Lake Maggiore is a trendy destination 365 days a year and in addition perfect for every taste.

The local history is another very relevant aspect which increases furthermore the value of that resort and according to archaeological excavations that area was inhabited since prehistoric times.

The first official inhabitants who established an official settlement many centuries ago were a Celtic tribe linked to the Taurini, a Gaulish population who also settled  the current area of Turin living a humble life mainly dedicated to agriculture, fishing, hunting the main activities to survive in those ancient times on the shore of the Verbano.

According to historic documentations those settlers were able to face Hannibal, leader of the powerful Carthage during his epic invasion of the Italic peninsula in the times of the Punic Wars against Rome. 

The Taurini were brave warriors, originally not allied of the Roman Empire but once they saw crossing their domains by that impressive army composed by 40,000 Carthaginian soldiers and they started to fight with just 4,000 men.

 A historic narration tells that the North African power lost in that clash over 11,000 soldiers and 17 elephants before to continue its campaign with the attempt to reach Rome in 218 BC.

That population was supported during the operations of defence by the Insubri, Celts who lived in the same territory, probably forming a unique group also with other Celts, the Ligurians before to be assimilated by the Romans in occasion of the notorious colonisation around 143 BC with the entire occupation of the present Piedmont during the times of Emperor Claudius.

The mild, salubrious climate of that area invited the establishment of several Patrician families linked to the highest sphere Imperial Rome, nobles who found in that land a magnificent residence developing in addition a very active cultural and artistic life. 

All that is highly confirmed by archaeological excavations in the boundaries of Belgirate with the finding of tombs, coins, different kinds of items and tools dating back the 1st century, including with the discovery of a notable Olpe, a big amphorae, attesting a considerable craft activity in that time.


Those stunning, climatic conditions also favoured in that period the cultivation of determined species of plants such as olives trees and vineyards producing exquisite olive oil and robust grapes

Those activities were strongly supported by the Emperors who sent in those territories Greek colonists and descendants of them coming from the Magna Graecia corresponding to a vast territory of Southern Italy.

Many of those settlers came from the far Sicily who were in that time among the first specialists in viticulture in the Italic peninsula despite today there is not a high production but they are very appreciated for their aromatic and delicate tastes.

The fall of Rome was due to an intense succession of invasions led by Burgundians, Ostrogoths, Goths, with a brief return of the Roman-Byzantines during the times of Constantinople as capital of that Oriental Empire before to fall under Lombard domain in the 6th century during the times of King Alboin.

Those new Germanic rulers started a development mainly oriented to establish marked borders elevating defencive check points all around the conquered territories but also improving the communications in terms of roads reusing the former plans traced and left by the Romans.

The Franks who defeated those rulers in the 8th century established a long period of influence since 774, the crowned Emperor Charlemagne incorporated that land in the Holy Roman Empire and during that time the local economy increased with new artisans next to a productive activity generated by several active farmers.

Despite those positive productive processes next to a pretty organised  geographic subdivision which gave a territorial identity there was also a negative side because that land started to  live centuries of total feudalism with landlords governing villages and hamlets which suffered a notable lack of autonomy and in many cases sort of local dictatorships.

Those rulers left that political system to their successors and in the Middle Ages the current municipality became part of that area previously mentioned called Vergante under the influence of the powerful Milanese families Sforza, Visconti and later Borromeo, the latter linked to the fortunes of Stresa, the Archipelago which took the same name and Baveno (I wrote a post about that resort in the case you are interested) 

Those places became of a notable importance, of immense prestige thanks to the charismatic figure of Cardinal Charles Borromeo Archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584 who was also elevated as Saint in the Catholic Church. 

That very influential Religious character born in the nearest Arona was a relevant leader during the notorious Counter-Reformation re-taking the Catholic Church to a high dimension with the Education of vicars priests, deacons and much more very famous for the foundation of seminaries. 

St. Charles Borromeo was furthermore with St. Philip Neri and St. Ignatius of Loyola probably the most considerable opponent to the ascent of the emergent Protestant Reformation giving the Roman Church a solid unity organising synods, meetings which were more than useful for the Vatican in a very tumultuous 16th century and for all that Belgirate lived golden ages during that time.

The Cardinal was also an eminent exponent of a new artistic renaissance permitting the executions of several works including in the smallest centres.

Those lands became a special destination for several, renowned painters, sculptors, architects and Masters of arts who embellished, decorated all the local communities leaving something of outstanding everywhere as a piece of artistic history to narrate, indelible marks which are still visible nowadays in the most remote village.

The local inhabitants in those times were mainly peasants, fishermen with a minority of merchants dedicated to local trades crossing the lake which was since that period a relevant source of commerce between two important regions as Piedmont and Lombardy. 

 An intense transport coast to coast of goods, especially textile, fabric and products coming from the mills as flour produced in both territories gave the Vergante and Belgirate a very wealthy life, probably in that period one of the most richest areas in the entire Italic peninsula.

In that century also born that former pioneer system of navigation which has always characterised Lake Maggiore with all its municipalities on both shores becoming later a superb source of the local tourism with the establishment of the first line of ferry services with afterwards the development of the cruises network with excursions to those marvellous islands.

The wars of succession saw brief rules in that territory of French, Spaniards and Austrian with the advent and the annexation to the Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia ruled by the powerful House of Savoy in the 17th century with the Borromeo family kept as local ruler until 1797 when the landing of Napoélon Bonaparte abolished the feudalistic system during its campaign in Italy.

After the fall of that notorious French leader in the early 19th century those territories were incorporated into the Savoy  domains once again automatically integrated in the Reign of Italy.


That Royal Dynasty was well known to be the protagonists of the reunification of the Italic peninsula with the proclamation on 17th March 1861 with Capital Turin during the time of King Victor Emmanuel II, a period in which Belgirate  followed all the historic stages of the new Italian Nation until present times. 



The name of the municipality is as in many places theme of debates but also pretty uncertain. A version is that it derives by the composition of two words such as Bel and girate which translated means beautiful curve for the ravishing bend of the lake in that geographical point. 

Another one pretty remote tells that it comes from a denomination derived by the denomination Bulgarate with a historic supposition that the territory was centuries ago for a brief period inhabited by a Bulgarian colony.

The local agglomeration is mainly developed facing the lake shore, arranged along the Simplon Road and around its Municipio, the Town Hall while the old historic centre surrounding the Chiesa di Santa Maria, the Church dedicated to St. Mary is located on a high picturesque hill corresponding to the higher boundaries of Belgirate.

Via Novembre is the street which embraces Via per Lesa, a long artery running in the interior of the municipal territory leading to that nearest town with the same name situated beneath a fascinating, green hilly plateau overlooking the lake.

The splendid sunny bay with scenic, magic views is also highlighted by the presence of the small but very attractive harbour  flanking the pleasant, stylish lakeside promenade bordered by rows of  trees and beautiful flowerbeds, refined aesthetic details which makes that site a splendid oasis of beauty with an impeccable, cared image enchanting the visitor at first sight.

The houses on the other side of that wonderful hallway are the typical, distinctive Lake Maggiore constructions highlighted by fascinating architectural details such as yellow, ochre, light red facades, flowered balconies with wrought iron railings worked in a an artistic way by local artisans characterised in addition by some wonderful courtyards or tiny, appealing patios completed by coloured charming shutters flanking decorated wooden doors.

Along that magnificent lake  walkway you can start your visit immediately seeing a curious sculpture representing a toad called Sciatt, a dialectal nickname gave that kind of amphibian by the locals despite someone often identifies that animal depicted in that monument as a frog calling it la Rana di Belgirate.
 
The presence of that stone work is linked to different kinds of suppositions with many controversial opinions, often generating curiosities but also a notable interest to discover why that image was placed there. 

As you know toads, frogs in ancient times and in different countries from the ancient Greece to Exotic tribes of Central America have always been considered creatures with magic powers also protagonists of fairytale stories.

Those amphibians were identified by someone since many centuries ago as very wise and clever so the first imaginative supposition is that it was established in Belgirate for desire of some locals to symbolise the talent and the cleverness of the population.

Other opinions are related to the fact the toads according to other ancient narrations are able to recovery hill people, so in that second case the statue was erected there as a sort of protector of the community facing possible plagues.

Including it was classified as a kind of guardian but also messenger of the rains in ancient civilisations as the Maya in Mexico so another opinion could be deeply related as an emblem established there to defend that site by natural disasters as inundations or torrential rains. 

Other stories tell that the sculpture was placed in that point to represent something of allegoric or satirical establishing something of peculiar, hilarious to highlight with something of different that beautiful promenade. 

Despite all that and varied versions that representation became a local landmark and from that word previously mentioned “Sciatt” is linked the by name given the local inhabitants who are called by the people of the nearest municipalities with a humorous funny nickname as Sciattin which translation means little toad.

A further curiosity linked to the locals is that for a long time many of them were  linked to a profession pretty common in that area for several decades, that of umbrella makers and bot because that land is very rainy.

Crossing the national road in front of the parking next to the harbour you can continue the visit admiring the Chiesa Parrocchiale, dedicated to St. Charles, the Parish Church of the municipality dated the 17th century and elevated on a previous Religious structure.


It consists in a huge, light building developed on a long rectangular base with a high light facade boasting fine lines,  well defined outlines with a splendid portal flanked by two columns on pedestals supporting a pediment placed on it.

On its sides you will notice a series of five windows while behind the main body of the structure you can see a beautiful bell tower characterised by an ample belfry and on the top was placed the statue of St. Charles.

In its interior the main highlights are a large nave leading to a wide apse boasting a splendid marble altar, notable fine Baroque works and some beautiful frescoes by Luigi Morgari a master from Turin very active in Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria but also for a canvas  preserved in the Katolic Klisesi of Izmir in Turkey. 

In addition you can admire great stuccoes by Luigi Secchi, an eminent sculptor and decorator from Cremona a city of southern Lombardy who also worked in Milan and Piedmont executing very fine works.

By a nearest step close to that majestic Sacred temple you can reach in approximately 10/15 minutes walking the magnificent Chiesa di Santa Maria located on the top of a very attractive hill.

That Religious building is also called by locals Chiesa Vecchia, the Old Church or also Chiesa del Suffragio the Church of the Vote

Dedicated to the Virgin Mary it is a beautiful example of Romanesque art erected the 13th century developed over the rests of a previous ecclesiastic construction confirmed by the nearest older Romanesque bell tower dating back the 11th century. 

Notable are the imposing lines of that towering medieval building boasting a very stylish belfry with its higher section topped by a small, scenic spire placed on a square plan completed in the layout of its facade by two thin windows.

A beautiful huge gable red roof covers the central body of the construction highlighted by columns forming a charming portico with an arched doorway beneath it while on the left side you will admire an adjacent, beautiful construction surmounted by a dome.  

The complex despite those two architectural bodies related to two different periods of elevation shows a perfect harmony although those different materials used for their establishment but there is a perfect coexistence between both structures despite that couple of centuries of difference corresponding to their elevations.

Inside you can admire some relevant frescoes dated the 15th century linked to the school of Bernardino Luini, that superb master from Dumenza, a small centre in the province of Varese who was one of the relevant figures of the Renaissance in Northern Italy.  

Those works greatly confirm the artistic imprint of that character for colours, shapes, perspectives and expressions of the human figures depicted in diverse Biblical scenes.

A beautiful marble altar and a beautiful floor are other considerable masterpieces while the aisles are highlighted by very charming Chapels perfectly arranged flanking the stunning central nave.

Simply wonderful is a magnificent succession of painted, decorated vaults combined with strong square columns, a setting arranged with a great refined artistic taste in the executions focused to give a wonderful aesthetic, stylish image oriented to impress the human eye from every perspective.

All around that Religious masterpiece the scenery is very suggestive, extremely captivating and you can enjoy striking views of Lake Maggiore from the picturesque square of that site, a place very suggested to take several pictures to keep in your best trips photo albums.

Another enchanting detail visible in Belgirate is the presence of a series of cobbled alleys and narrow streets with small steps called Rughe which complete a very idyllic environment in which every corner transmits an immense charm delighting the view of every visitor.

Looking at that beautiful area, the special sensation is that of a sort of magnificent jump in the remote past making that corner of the town a little, shining jewel in its kind also for its excellent preservation.

Another outstanding local attraction is the impressive presence of magnificent villas, their establishment was a trend mainly started in the 18th century when especially Milanese and Piedmont wealthy aristocratic families built those elegant, stylish mansions on the shore or in the proximity of Lake Maggiore as their second residence.

One of the most important is the famous Villa Carlotta, same name of the wonderful Villa, well known for its stunning gardens situated in Tremezzo -Lake Como, a fine building erected in the 19thcentury for desire of the Countess Carmela Mestiatis Castellengo.

It currently hosts a distinguished and famous Hotel famed for its outstanding service, a more than recommended accommodation selected for important events thanks to the presence of fully equipped meeting rooms with capacities from 5 to 500 people.

Those facilities are ideal for the organisation of conventions by companies, Tour Operators and enterprises looking for a splendid site to celebrate a meeting, conference of success in a place arranged to donate dreams.

The Hotel provides 129 comfortable rooms, a renowned restaurant, in addition one of its stupendous attractions is its huge and striking park boasting wonderful gardened sections covering a surface of approximately 30,000 square metres.

Another one which worth a mention is Villa Treves, former property of the local wealthy family Beretta, the Napoleonic General Domenico Pino and other noble families such as Fontana and Biscaretti di Ruffia. 

Erected in the 18th century but largely modified in the 20th century that mansion boasts a fantastic position facing the lake with a front side is highlighted by a superb layout with arched, rectangular windows, a beautiful central balcony with columns, the structure is bordered by refined, marked outlines and in addition surrounded by a marvellous park.

Since 1892 it became residence of the famous publishing Magnate and Editor from Trieste Emilio Treves who published the famous Corriere di Milano and the stories of the famed French writer Jules Verne.  

Treves lived for a long time in Milan where he died but  he decided to purchase a villa in Belgirate as a great haven to spend pleasant times in that paradise, often hosting prominent people of  literature and good friends such as Giovanni Verga, Gabriele d´Annunzio, Arrigo Boito and Edmondo de Amicis among others. 

Villa Bono Cairoli is a further one which deserves to be mentioned, consisting in a stylish building which originally was property of Adele Cairoli, an intellectual lady, mother of the famous patriots Giovanni and Benedetto Cairoli died during the reunification of Italy in the 19th century.

The Villa is pretty famous for a historic episode because it hosted the hero of the two worlds Giuseppe Garibaldi, that famed character born in Nice, well known to have been leader of the reunification, a great friend of one of the two brothers. 

Today on the facade of that building is depicted such event when that famous figure stayed in that mansion which also has a beautiful garden. 

The building was modified in the 20th century with a pretty large transformation consisting in the addition of a new body linking the two main structures of the villa and it is in its kind a local historic landmark.

Worth also a mention Villa Principessa Matilde, a beautiful Neoclassical construction elevated in the 19th century on the remnants of a religious building. 

That mansion had famous owners such as Matilde Guglielmina Matilde Bonaparte niece of Napoléon and Russian Prince Vladimir Andrević Dolgorukij, a character linked to the old dynasty Rurik which was historically protagonist to move the political power from Kiev to Vladimir-Suzdal well known to be a descendant of Yury Dolgorukij considered according to  historic documentations the founder of Moskow.

There are many other wonderful mansions of great charm along the local coastline some of them were converted in local residences or hosting nowadays Institutions, one of them is Villa Conelli erected in the 19th century by an architect from Lecco called  Eugenio Linati which kept its original garden.


A relevant detail which worth to be mentioned linked to the local history is the great nautical tradition that resort boasts.

In that town was founded La Società delle Regate, the first Italian Regatta Yacht Club which continues nowadays to organise and promote important events.

Due to its historic past it is well known for its prestige and glorious name receiving several awards and honours. Obviously thanks to that, water sports are activities very famous on that waters basin on which sailing, windsurfing, rowing but also diving are loved by many people since a long time ago.

The town is also well known to  have a very active cultural life. Every year in the classical, elegant previously mentioned Villa Carlotta Hotel takes place an important event consisting in the Premio Internazionale di Poesia Guido Gozzano.

That famed appointment is since 1982 devoted to that distinguished poet who gave that appointment his name, a talented decadentist artist from Turin who died at only 32 years of age and in some of his works mentioned that town as in a work dated 1907 titled "L' Amica di Nonna Speranza, the friend of granny Speranza.

Frequented by important figures it is organised by the active Belgirate Pro Loco, the local Association which promotes tourism and culture in the municipality.

The most divine literature of the 19th century is closely linked to Belgirate when in 1838 Marie-Henry Beyle alias Stendhal in the composition of his notorious romance titled La Certosa di Parma.
  
That great masterpiece by that French genius has a main protagonist the Duchess Sanseverina who was in the narration leaving a villa of the current resort to reach his lover Fabrizio del Dongo crossing the lake until the Swiss shore describing that town with a very significant phrase.

That emblematic writer wrote: “Belgirate, village charmant qui mantien ce que son nom promet; un beau tour sur le lac.” which translated means Belgirate is a charming village which keeps what its name promises; a beautiful tour on the lake. 

That talented artist from Grenoble was well known for his literary works in which many of his protagonists were romantic figures with passionate sentiments for the captivating storyline. 

In addition his style was well known for a marked vision of an enchanting life in beautiful places but often briefly illustrated highlighting veiled mysteries as something hidden to be discovered by the readers leaving all in the air and it was also that detail which enchanted many literature lovers.

What he wrote totally reflects all that and in its kind it is an undirected invitation to the reader who met in those lines not very rich details but a message to learn what there is behind a golden gate, perfectly depicting Belgirate, a wonder which in a visit is packed by wonderful surprises as that eminent mind called Stendhal wants to transmit.

For all that many fans of that incomparable artist during a trip to Lake Maggiore stop in that resort with extreme curiosity to admire a place depicted by that master trying to image the scene described in that masterpiece.

Other famed men of art enjoyed divine sojourns in Belgirate living for a period in its boundaries as Carlo Carrà, master and leader of the Futurist movement who immortalised that place in one of his works dated 1924 titled "Case a Belgirate", houses at Belgirate and Maximilian von Fichard, a talented, German etcher, born Ukrainian of the 19th century who died in the municipality.

The Spanish composer and conductor Ernesto Halftter also was bewitched by the beauty of that place deciding to live there for a period there continuing to develop one of the works of his master Manuel de Falla, the famous opera Atlántida, based on a Catalan poem with the same name by Jacint Verdaguer.

A very recommended panoramic place to enjoy during your stay I highly suggest you is a concrete view point along the National Road flanking the lake towards north approximately 2, 0 kilometres away from the centre in direction Stresa.

Once there you will be delighted by a magic view of the Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso, a wonderful Hermitage located on the other coast along the Lombardy coastline in the town of Leggiuno, a idyllic medieval marvel perched on a stunning cliff, a masterpiece erected in Romanesque style in the 11th century. (I wrote something regarding that marvel in post about Sangiano if you are interested) 

Next to that incomparable view apart that ancient, historic Religious diamond boasting a unique beauty you will be delighted by a striking rocky promontory another view simply unforgettable transmitting something of magic at first sight.

During a stay in that resort there are many opportunities to fill your days with wonderful excursions

One of them is definitely the great lake cruise visiting the fantastic Borromean Islands, the visits of Stresa, Baveno  is a must  if you are planning to spend holidays or short breaks in that fabulous resort. (I wrote something about those islands in a post about Baveno in the case you are interested)

I suggest you also visit in the immediate proximity in a very charming hamlet called Magognino situated just 4, 0 kilometres away, an old picturesque tiny village part of the municipality of Stresa.

Once reached that place along a path immersed in a wonderful, verdant environment with stunning views overlooking the lake you can admire two old Chapels erected on scenic rocky spurs.

Along that picturesque trail you will be enchanted by great view points until reaching the top of a pleasant hilly plateau on which you will have the great chance to enjoy other spectacular panoramic views absolutely astonishing.

Many are the outdoors activities you can practise while you are spending holidays in Belgirate starting from relaxing walks but also trekking and Lake Maggiore is also a splendid destination for all people who love cycling.

 Mountain Bikers will find there a Mecca with several mixed and dirt trails in the immediate surrounding approaching a stupendous hilly territory crossing magnificent natural corners all to contemplate with a large choice of stunning routes highlighted by superb ascents, challenging climbs with series of spectacular bends, great changes of slopes and much more.

Calogna, a neighbourhood of the nearest Lesa is a great place for all that, a very suggested destination for cyclists who want to test their talent of "grimpeurs" .

The ascent is 4, 5 kilometres long but the first section consisting in the first 500, 0- 600, 0 metres is very challenging compared to a sort of mur of the Belgian Classics including for a while almost very similar for its surface with slopes around 14%-15%.

The following kilometre is constant around 10% and after almost 2000,0 metres  the climb constantly continues around  8%  ending on the top at approximately 6,5%. Reached the summit the scenery is simply wonderful with wild, uncontaminated forests and views simply striking.

That area is also very recommended for trekkers with paths very interesting, one of them leads to the Motta Rossa crossing picturesque forests of oaks, birches and pines.

also in the boundaries of Comnago and Carpugnino, both neighbourhoods of Lesa are great places to spend pleasant times reaching heights of approximately 700,0 metres walking across a virgin woodland followed by vineyards enjoying also in those sites landscapes to keep in your memories for a long time.

For those who want to try a great experience the iconic ascent to the Mottarone is a great option to enjoy without hesitations

That climb starts from Stresa, it its 20, 0 kilometres long with a maximum slope of 13% after the agglomeration of Alpino reaching its top at 1252, 0 metres

It is a very recommended destination, a place very loved by many German, Swiss and Dutch cyclists since a long time ago and in the last decades also beloved by British and American.

Obviously for who is not a cyclist you can reach that summit by car and once there you will have a stunning view of Lake Maggiore absolutely sublime.  

On the summit you will find an  ample parking immediately ended the pass on the right side and in front of you that 1492, 0 metres peak.  

Crossing the parking taking the right you can take a lovely path descending it you can have a superb view of the Monte Rosa, in very clear days also the silhouette of the Monviso, the mount where has its source the famous Po river and various Swiss peaks of the Lepontine Alps.

On Mottarone you can enjoy the Restaurant La Baita Cai and an accommodation called La Casa della Neve which also offers as the previous establishment a delicious cuisine in the case you want to stop there after your efforts or spending a day in contact with nature and mountains reaching that site driving.


That place is also a well known winter sports destination with an excellent reputation for Alpine skiing, its slopes are  highly appreciated by many skiers because despite they are not extremely long are pretty steep with in addition on the central track an attractive straight after a sharp curve.

 I suggest you in the case of a full day excursion to continue descending on the other side of the pass along the road leading to the Lake D´Orta, another jewel I strongly recommend  to visit. 

The local cuisine is another aspect will delight you offering a vast culinary panorama linked to an excellent old, gastronomic tradition and what is simply great is the ample range of specialities ready to satisfy all the most refined tastes.

You can find a wide variety of delicious lake fish dishes, a great highlight is perch prepared in different styles such as grilled, baked or fried and also present in a fantastic Fritto Misto di Lago, a plate which combines different kinds of fried fish accompanied by mixed salads or potatoes or also very popular are the iconic Alborelle fritte, fried bleak simply delicious.

Outstanding is also the ample offer of Risotti cooked with herbs, butter, asparagus,  porcini mushrooms, cheeses and including with fish, very famous as in other lake resorts the Risotto al Pesce Persico. (perch with rice) 
 
The traditional Polenta is another gastronomic highlight with a secular tradition often combined with Luganighe, homemade pork sausages or in Concia style, covered by melted cheeses, fresh butter and slices of onion.

You can try furthermore the Gnocchi Burro e Salvia, with a sauce of butter and sage seasoned with Parmesan cheese or if you love pasta,  Tagliolini Prosciutto e Funghi, small tagliatelle with a sauce made with fresh mushrooms, butter and cured ham.

The quality of meat is excellent, a famed speciality the Bollito also called Lesso, part of the typical oldest culinary art, a dish which consists in beef or veal meat boiled with vegetables seasoned with spices and aromatic herbs.

Another traditional plate is the notorious Brasato di Manzo consisting in slices of beef meat cooked very slowly adding a stock, prepared in sauce or in some cases with vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery and potatoes.

Of high reputation are also very tastefully Salami as the Salam della Duja and the  delectable Mortadella Ossolana is a further delight. 


Those products are often served in mixed starters, appetisers or in assorted buffets next to a wide variety of great cheeses such as the popular Toma del Mottaron Bettelmatt, Formaggella, Ricotta and Ossolana d´Alpe among others.

Very relevant in all the local area the production o a superb honey and all the forests of the Vergante are rich of chestnuts. 

Both are often used to prepare a large variety of bakery products, cakes and in the case of the second it is frequently used in the preparation of very appreciated sweet jams.
 
Piedmont is a Region of Italy with an important, incomparable tradition about fine wines, also along the coast of Lake Maggiore and in its immediate proximity you can taste superb fine wines produced by grapes of the hills of the Verbano, Novara and Ossola.

A wide range of selected supreme masterpieces will delight you, sublime products very smooth, highly palatable such as Ghemme Docg, Neuv Bruschett, Prunent, Tarlap, Nebbiolo Doc, Ossolanum and Gattinara are absolutely great satisfying the most demanding tastes.

For their versatility, colour, texture and taste you will have an ample choice filling your stay with an endless experience tasting a long list of great wines.Worth a mention that next to all those superb qualities, they are also very suggested for classy cocktails and perfect to use in the most refined Haute cuisine.

If you are thinking in Lake Maggiore as your future destination I added some links they could help you to organise and plan your itineraries filling your stay with many things to do and you will find some links about suggested Hotels, naturally if you need some information more, a pleasure to help you.

Belgirate is without hesitations a place which enchant every tourist in a while, a relaxing destination to admire the beauty of that ravishing lake particularly recommended for couples in love looking for a perfect romantic place and why not to insert it in a route during a honey moon or anniversary celebrating that event in a site absolutely perfect for that.

The stunning wide range of comfortable accommodations along that magic waters basin is always a successful choice for that but also for all people who desire to spend a very pleasant trip with different stages during a tailor made tour in Northern Italy.

That town is a must if you are planning holidays on Lake Maggiore simply wonderful for all what there is around it including its indisputable historic patrimony.

It is very easy to reach that wonderful place from Milan city or Malpensa Airport taking the A8 motorway in direction Varese-Gravellona Toce-Alessandria-Genova with exit to Castelletto Ticino or Arona

From there you have to continue on the National Road SS Strada Statale 33 running along the lake following direction Arona -Stresa.

The journey is just 45 minutes from the Milanese Airport and approximately one hour and some minutes driving from the centre of the Capital of Lombardy.

A visit or planning a stay in that beautiful, relaxing, peaceful and shining little jewel of the Verbano is something special, those magic views across a stylish promenade simply marvellous all year give that place a magic aura you will breathe in a while.

Once there, the first view will be as a great and unforgettable appetiser with amazing images which are the best way to start to live your days of holidays in a corner of Italy which transmits sublime poetry and one thing is certain, it will be a site you will fall in love at first sight keeping its divine image eternally alive in your eyes and memories forever.



Francesco Mari



Recommended Accommodations in Belgirate


Hotel Villa Carlotta
Hotel Milano

 

Useful links 
www.turismo-belgirate.it