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Lake Maggiore Top Attractions:

* Borromeo Islands: Three picturesque islands can be reached by ferry from Stresa - Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and Isola dei Pescatori.

* Villa Pallavicino Park: The park at villa Pallavicino, near Stresa, has large botanical and zoological gardens with many plant and animal species. It's open daily from late spring through October 31.

* Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens: The botanical gardens are in the small town of Verbania, near the Swiss glaciers.

* Lagoni di Mercurago: The park in the hills outside Arona near the small town of Mercurago is a good place for hiking and mountain biking (closed to motor vehicles). In the park are many animals, birds, and plants and a few small lakes.

* Mottarone Mountain: You can take a cable car from Stresa Lido or drive up the panoramic Borromea road from Stresa through the hills above the lake. From the top is a 360-degree view of the lake district and the Alps. In summer it's a good place for hiking or painting and in winter there's skiing.

* Castles and Fortresses: The Rocca di Arona sits on the cliffs above Arona and has good lake views. The fortress was the scene of many battles but the remains are now a public park with ducks and peacocks. The 12th century Angera Castle is a preserved castle with a doll museum inside. Near the Swiss border, the castles of Cannero sit on a rocky island near the shore.

* Church of Santa Caterina del Sasso: The 12th century church is in a picturesque setting, built into the cliffs. It can be reached by a walking path or by boat.

* Santa Anna Gorge: The gorge at the end of the Cannobino River, a favorite place for white water rafting and kayaking.