Explore the picturesque corners and medieval squares of the old town centres and their architectural treasures, in a union of art and history.
The medieval origins of the area around Lake Maggiore are still in evidence; the towns and villages still show traces of their ancient history, with its courts, signorie and castles.
One of the best preserved of the old villages is Carmine Superiore, an ancient fortified village on a spur of rock high above Lake Maggiore. Another burgh with a characteristic medieval appearance is Ghemme, which has a number of buildings made of river stones clustered around pretty courtyards.
But the main distinguishing feature of a medieval burgh is its castle, from which the aristocratic family supervised the life of the village and controlled the borders of their estates. Lesa, for example, has two fortresses, called the Castellaccio and the Old Castle; the Castellazzo in Romagnano Sesia still has its circle of walls. In the village of Maggiate Superiore near Gattico you can see the remains of an ancient medieval castle.
Arcades are another distinctive feature of a medieval burgh; in Arona they grace the Piazza del Popolo, in Pallanza 32 pink Baveno granite pillars underpin the 19th century Town Hall. Once a place where assemblies of the populace were held, these arcades are now animated by bars and restaurants, adding to the pleasure of a stroll along the lakefront.