National Geographic : 1913 Aug
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE LAKE MAGGIORE A short journey by rail brings one to the edge of Lake Maggiore, which though limited to a certain extent in its beauty area, is unsurpassed in parts. The northern portion is by far the best, the beauty culminating in the neighborhood of Stresa. It was called by the Romans Lacus \ erbanus, and is, as its name im plies, the largest in the vicinity, being forty miles long and in places six to seven miles wide. It is a beautiful and picturesque ride down the lake, passing many summer homes and villas, with their lovely surroundings, nestling in peace at the foot of the many mountain peaks, and one may hear the distant tingle of bells from the herds quietly grazing in some far-off pasture. One of the first places of interest to the traveler is Laveno, situated on the west coast of the lake and near the moun tain of Tasso del Ferro. From the sum mit the white marble Cathedral of Milan, over 40 miles away, can be seen dis tinctly, with its many turrets and pin nacles. Across the lake lies Pallanza, a busy little town at the foot of Mt. Rosso, which is more of a winter resort, owing to its receiving the warm southern winds. IORROMEAN ISLES Proceeding southward on our journey, we encounter the interesting Borromean Isles, which are four in number-Isola S. Giovanni, Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and Isola Superiore-the first three belonging to the noble family of Borromeo. Isola Miadre is a charming place, built with seven terraces, having gardens con taining rich and rare tropical fruit-trees and flowers growing in profusion. It is well kept and a fine place to spend a pleasant hour or so, enjoying such a col lection of nature's growth. ISOLA BELL This island is thoroughly artificial and rather more curious than beautiful, with terraces, formal gardens, and groves, which contrast with the wildness and simplicity of some of the islands of this group (see pages 952 and 953). It has an interesting history, for pre vious to 1670 it was nothing but a barren rock, without vegetation and subjected to the washing of the waves, which had dashed against it for centuries, almost severing it in twain. At that time Count lorromeo started the great task of mak ing it into the fairy place it is today by quarrying the rock from places and fill ing it in others, building the arches, ter races, and buttresses. Thousands of boat-loads of rich earth were brought from the mainland and dis tributed over the rocks in sufficient depth to insure vegetation its proper nourish ment. This being accomplished, the cha teau was built and finished in a lavish manner, many of the original articles still remaining intact, such as furniture, dra peries, curious and personal effects of the various residents. Among other things of historic interest here is the bed in which Napoleon slept the night before the battle of Marengo. There are a number of terraces, one built upon another, spacious walks en circling the island and shaded by fine old trees of every shape and kind. Amid these surroundings strut a flock of pure white peacocks, which seem ever ready to welcome the visitors and display their beautiful snow-white plumage (see pictures, pages 954 and 955). There is a most exquisite view of the distant bold mountain peaks of some of the higher Alps, including Mt. Rosa, the Strahlhorn, and the twin white forked peaks of the Simplon. On Isola Superiore is a charming little fishing village, very compact and con trasting with the clean and neat island just described. The white town of Stresa lies on the edge of the lake, while on the mountain slopes back of the town are verdant pas tures for the grazing of the herds. very fine view is to be had from here of the B-orromean Isles, lying but a short distance to the northward. Mit. -lottarone, which is near here. rivals the Rigi of Switzerland in the fine view to be had from its summit. The plains of Lombardy and Piedmont spread out in panorama, while their rivers ap pear as ribbons of silver interlacing them. From Stresa we again take the train on our journey to M\ilan, thus completing the circuit of the lakes.