Lake Orta

After a long weekend in Stresa on the shores of Italy’s Lake Maggiore, it’s official: I’ve fallen in love!  I know it’s not a new discovery, but this really is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Blue shimmering waters surrounded by majestic mountain peaks receding into the mist.  Gorgeous!

Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore

It was one of those trips that just fell into place, with beautiful sunny weather, and unually for vegetarian travellers, great food at every turn.  Each day seemed to bring another delicious lunch in a yet more spectacular location.  There was a real sense of seasonal eating here, with much use made of local mushrooms, pumpkins and root veg.  There were top quality simple meals of pasta with tomato sauce, fresh bread and salad, but also unusual dishes of herby polenta and sweet pumpkin gnocchi.  We only had four days, but as well as Stresa we visited Arona, also on Lake Maggiore and Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta.  We ate well everywhere and below is a list of recommendations.

Sunrise over Lake Maggiore

La Piazzetta, Piazza del Popolo, Arona (
Overlooking Lake Maggiore to the Rocca de Angera on the far side. The had a special 3 course mushroom menu here and we had a wild mushroom tagliatelle as well as gnocchi in a rich tomato and mozzarella sauce.

Al Buscion, 18 Via Principessa Margharita, Stresa
We stopped in here twice for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles.  It has a great atmosphere and excellent wine list.

La Botte, 6/8 Via Mazzini, Stresa
Excellent herby polenta with garlicky roast vegetables and a rich wild mushroom risotto.

The New Bar, Isola Superiore dei Pescatori, Lake Maggiore – on the far shore of the island from the ferry port.
Another spectacular location on the lakeside with views over to Verbania.  A simple meal of pasta and tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil panino with a goats cheese salad and bread.

Cafe Torino, 23 Piazza Cadorna, Stresa
Great value pizza with salad and bread, served with style in a lively atmoshpere.

Trattoria Due Piccioni, 61/63 Via Principe Tomaso, Stresa
Top class cuisine with knowledgable and friendly staff.  We had Tortino Rustico, an eggy savoury cake with grilled courgettes and Gnocchi with pureed pumpkin topped with crumbled amaretti, sweet and intriguing.

Ristorante Due Santi, Piazza Motta, Orta San Giulio
An even more sublime view over Lake Orta towards Isola San Giulio accompanied by another simple, but perfect meal of pasta, bread and salad.

For a more detailed article on our trip see here.

Isola San Giulio, Lake Orta