Lake Maggiore, Piedmont
Lago Maggiore is a pre-alpine lake of fluvioglacial origin, the second largest in Italy. Its name “Maggiore” derives from the fact that it is the largest of the lakes in the area, but in reality it is the second largest in Italy . In the past it was united with the Lake of Mergozzo, from which it was separated from the formation of the Piana di Fondotoce.
Its shores are shared between Switzerland (Canton Ticino) and Italy (Verbano-Cusio-Ossola provinces, Novara, Varese).
In Lake Maggiore there are many large islands, small or small, divided between the 8 of Piedmont, the 2 of Switzerland and the only one in Lombardy, for a total of 11.
Isola dei Pescatori (or Isola Superiore or Isola Superiore dei Pescatori)
Isolino di San Giovanni
Islet (or rock) of the Malghera
Isole di Brissago
Island of San Pancrazio (or Isola Grande)
Island of Sant’Apollinare (or Isolino)
Castles of Cannero
Between Stresa and Verbania is the archipelago of the Borromean Islands: Isola Madre (the largest of the lake basin), Isola Bella and Isola Superiore dei Pescatori (also known simply as Isola dei Pescatori or Isola Superiore)
Opposite the Swiss resort of Brissago are the two Isole di Brissago.
Opposite the coast of Cannero Riviera are instead the three cliffs emerged called Castelli di Cannero: the major rock, totally occupied today by the war artifact of the Vitaliana, rock desired by Count Ludovico Borromeo starting from 1518, the minor rock, on which the ruins of the so-called “prisons” stand out, but in fact an advanced turret with a small bomb shelter at the port harbor, and finally the scoglietto (towards Maccagno) of the “Melgonaro”, on which only a sturdy but tenacious plant grows fascinated poets and engravers such as Piero Chiara, Marco Costantini, Carlo Rapp.
Finally, the Isolino di San Giovanni in front of Verbania (famous because it was for many years residence, in the seventeenth-century Palazzo Borromeo, of the conductor Arturo Toscanini), the islet La Malghera also called Isola delle Bambole, Isola Bella and that of the Pescatori and then the Isolino Partegora in the small Gulf of Angera.
The findings and evidence found tell us that following the creation of the lake, with the complete withdrawal of ice, the surrounding area was inhabited by nomadic groups, who used the territory mainly as a place for hunting and supplies.
In the historical period of the Chalcolithic one there is the construction of the first residential areas in the immediate vicinity of the lake and from that moment there will be a slow consolidation of sedentary groups.
The area was controlled in the following periods by the Ligurians who advanced to some areas of the current Lombardy, only to be rejected again until their western borders by the descent of the Celts in the Italian peninsula, probably the population of the Taurine Gauls.
The Gauls therefore had the supremacy over the lake territory until the Romans who led the Piedmont and Lombard areas back to provinces of the empire. The “Verbanus Lacus” (name given to him by the Romans, from which the Verbano lake nomenclature will probably derive) or “Lacus Maximus” (another name attributed to him by Virgil) will remain firmly in the Roman empire up to the Nordic peoples barbarian invasions, which will fragment the unity created by the Roman control bringing chaos and division throughout the territory.
To arrive at a period of rebirth of the cities on the lake we must wait for the Middle Ages, which will lead to the creation of villages, castles and in general a very different example of physiognomy of inhabited places.
In this period the area around the lake, as well as numerous territories around Milan, passed into the hands of several families such as Della Torre, the Visconti, the ruling Habsburg house from 1713 and in particular the Borromeo family, which had a huge influence for many years on Lake Maggiore, starting from the acquisition of the fief of Arona in 1445; other noble families linked since the Middle Ages to the territory were the Besozzi, the Sessa, the Luini and the Capitanei di Locarno.
In the Museo dell’Isola Bella there is a prehistoric pirogue found near Ispra in the 19th century, reflecting the long uninterrupted history of local navigation, which continued in the more recent centuries with the transport of stone blocks and the fluiting of wood.