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The shorelines of Lake Mergozzo and the Lago Maggiore are less than a mile and a world apart. Where the Lago Maggiore is sublime and dramatic, Lake Mergozzo is serene and understated – and where the former is besieged by crowds, you can conduct a walk around its near neighbour in blessed solitude.

"Epilogue for a Holiday in Lago Maggiore"

The contrast between the views of the two neighbouring bodies of water is so stark that walkers around Lake Mergozzo will ask themselves: where has all the Alpine scenery gone?

From some angles and in some areas (mainly towards the end of the walk in and near the town of Mergozzo), you can get a peek at the peaks: but even then, this mainly serves as a reminder that they are still there …

"Epilogue for a Holiday in Lago Maggiore"

… while mostly, they remain well hidden behind the trees and slopes of the surrounding hills.

"Epilogue for a Holiday in Lago Maggiore"

The two lakes also vary hugely in size. A walk around the Lago Maggiore (which has a circumference of approx. 130 km) is a project for a week-long holiday, while you can complete he same feat at Lake Mergozzo in between a late breakfast and lunch.

Not that such a hike would be a good idea: a busy main road runs a few metres away from the lake’s eastern shore, which is why we shall concentrate on the western shore, which is graced by the scenic Sentiero Azzurro.

Make Lake Mergozzo your perfect epilogue for a holiday in Lago Maggiore

"Epilogue for a Holiday in Lago Maggiore"

Lake Mergozzo is one of the few destinations in the area where trains actually come in handy. No other form of public transport stops as near to the southern tip of Lake Mergozzo as the train.

The station is called Verbania-Pallanza and is located quite literally in the middle of nowhere, next to a granite quarry which, one assumes, the station was built to serve. There is certainly nothing else there, least of all the town of Verbania-Pallazza which lies approx. 8 km to the east.

Leave the station in the direction of the main road, turn right for a few metres and then right again into Via Montorfano.

After approx. 10 minutes of walking past various storage sites and other facilities of the quarry, just before you reach the railway underpass, you must turn left.

Walk up the hill, following the signs towards the Sentiero Azzurro, and very soon, you will get your first glimpse of Lake Mergozzo.

"Epilogue for a Holiday in Lago Maggiore"

You are now standing on one of the reasons why you do not get much of an Alpine panorama: the lake is entirely surrounded by hills that may be low-lying, but they do not need to be very high to block the view because they are so close.

Look to the right and you will also notice that Lake Mergozzo lies at a considerably lower level than its larger neighbour of which it was once a part, tens of thousands of years ago before sediment deposits from the river Toce formed a barrier between the two.

Today’s walk is not as varied as the thrill-a-minute hike between Stresa and Baveno, but serves its different purpose just as well.

While the Stresa-Baveno route is the perfect way to start your holiday, the Sentiero Azzurro works as its perfect epilogue, a minor-key piano sonata that provides the perfect complement to the operatic furore of the Lago Maggiore.

There are, at any rate, also a few things that the two walks have in common: for one, here as well as there, water is a recurring motif, both to look at …

"Epilogue for a Holiday in Lago Maggiore"

… and to taste as a welcome refreshment.

And secondly, neither walk overstays its welcome: just before the Sentiero Azzurro can become repetitive, you will reach a roadside shrine …

… where you must turn right towards the town of Mergozzo.

The town will surprise you after a few days of holidaying on the Lago Maggiore: there are no crowds here, just the odd day-trip family or group of cyclists.

Mergozzo is charming and scenic in its own way …

… but do not get lost in the maze of village streets before having visited the pretty little church in the town centre (Santa Maria Assunta), the highlight of any stroll through the town .

For your return to Stresa, you do not have many options: since there is no ferry service, you must either take one of the three buses a day that go to Verbania (the last of which arrives in Verbania after the last ferry to Stresa has left) or wait for the next train.

An hourly railway service connects Domodossola in the north and Arona on the Lago Maggiore’s southern tip, but only every other train stops in Mergozzo.

We suggest you look carefully at the schedule and occupy yourself as much as possible in and around Mergozzo, mainly because you will not want to spend too much time in the station (which is about half a mile away from the village centre). There is nothing there to entertain you, no shops and no coffee bar, and you will even look in vain for toilets or proper benches to sit on the platform.

Mergozzo may be scenic but it is also small, and once you have finished your stroll through town, we suggest you take the footpath that runs down the eastern lakeshore for a few hundred metres. There are benches on the lakeside promenade, and just before car traffic takes over the lakeshore, you can sit down and rest in a small public garden for a relaxed and reflective half hour or so: the perfect epilogue for the perfect epilogue.

For us Lake Mergozzo was the perfect epilogue for a holiday in Lago Maggiore. Make it yours, too.

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