On the borders of Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland, the Maggiore Lake (or Verbano), is the second largest Italian lake, after Garda. It is situated close to the Alps, stretching for 65 km prevalently NNE-SSW from Magadino to Sesto Calende. Most of the lake lies in Italian territory, marking the boundary between the provinces of Novara and the VCO (Verbania-Cusio-Ossola), in Piedmont, and Varese, in Lombardy; only the most northerly end (42 sq km) belongs to Switzerland.
The Maggiore Lake has an extensive catchment basin which includes the valleys of the Ticino and Toce rivers (his principal tributaries) and the Maggia. It also receives water from: Lugano's Lake, Orta's Lake, Varese's Lake and Mergozzo's Lake. Its only distributory is the Ticino, which leaves the lake at Sesto C alende and from the left flows into the Po below Pavia.
A mild climate with an lush vegetation, excellent hotels of longstanding tradition, and many campsites, make the Maggiore Lake a favourite tourist centre. Well-known towns of international fame line its shore: Castelletto Ticino, Dormelletto, Arona, Meina, Lesa, Belgirate, Stresa, Baveno, Verbania, Ghiffa, Oggebbio, Cannero Riviera and Cannobio on the Piedmont side; Maccagno, Luino, Laveno and Angera on the Lombardy shores; Locarno, Ascona and Brissago on Swiss soil.
The considerable river traffic uses modern passenger craft and highspeed hydrofoils, while a frequet car and passenger ferry links Intra with Laveno. A wide range of sports is available: fishing for bleak, trout, perch and other fish, water skiing, sailing, powerboating, canoeing, swimming etc. The principal centres are linked by main roads and railway.
Mottarone's summit, at an altitude of 1491 metres, can be reached by car or cable car from Stresa.
The 9 km panoramic road, "La Borromea", that leads up to this splendid natural spectacle offers the observer remarkable scenery along the way that includes green meadows, sparkling streams and luxuriant woods, not to mention unforgettable sweeping views over Lake Maggiore and, off into the distance, the Padana Plains and the peaks of the Italian and Swiss Alps.
The Borromeo family began to take an interest, which continued until 1892, in Mottarone beginning in 1623 when Vitiliano Borromeo had the agricultural-forestal road, planned by Pier Maria Vallenzasca, constructed. Today this road is used by skiers and mountain lovers who choose it as an alternative to the cable car that rep laced the old railway, since dismantled.