The lakes of northern Italy and southern Switzerland have drawn travellers for centuries. There is a special attraction, an allure that pulls people as if by magic. Now rowers are also being enchanted by the charms of this region. It has cast its spell on us and is one of our favourite places. We have been drawn here every year for some of the most spectacular rowing in the world. Join us and let this region surprise you with its charm and warmth. It will take your breath away with its unparalleled natural beauty. Discover the pizazz of Italy with the precision of Switzerland, separate countries but bound together by their shared geography, a common language and a long history of welcoming visitors.
Lago Maggiore effortlessly straddles the two countries. Firmly rooted in Italy, it also wraps its shoreline along a beautiful part of Switzerland, where the Alps rise dramatically behind the lake. As Italy’s second largest lake and its longest, there is a lot to explore here. Get to know this majestic lake with a wonderful week rowing its waters. Coastal rowing shells give us the freedom to follow the shore or cross back and forth as we seek out the loveliest scenery and most enchanting sights. We will row past opulent hotels in Stresa, the wealthy waterfront of Ascona, tiny villages perched high on the hills above, plus a diversity of islands, one sporting a castle, others with grand gardens and villas, another simply covered in willow trees. There is always something interesting and beautiful to look at as you row.
While the focus is on the rowing, we will squeeze in a few cultural and off water activities. A highlight is a visit to a garden rich with colour, beauty and history. Stroll coastal paths and elegant waterfronts, descend to a monastery perched on a cliff above the lake. Sit in the warmth of a sunny café to watch chic people passing by in a square decorated with buildings painted white, yellow, pink and ochre, the vowels of Italian floating above the clink of glasses. And then there is the food. Savour a morning cappuccino and pastry, for lunch enjoy fresh panini or a hot slice of pizza, and at dinner sample a heaping bowl of risotto alla Milanese or a serving of polenta with lake fish. Enjoy local wines or perhaps prosecco or just a refreshing glass of sparkling water. Be charmed and enchanted. Let magical Lago Maggiore cast its spell on you.
Read some of our blog posts about this trip:
Enjoy these videos of past trips!
|Single Supplement||$225||$290||190 €|
|Daily Distances||Boats||Group Size|
|15 – 30 km per day||Coastal coxed quads and double.||Minimum group size is two quads (9 guests); maximum is four quads (19 guests)|
Non-rowers welcome. Program for non-rowing companions includes walking and sightseeing options. Note that the price for non-rowers will depend on the numbers participating. Please contact us to discuss.
Note that weather and water conditions may mean deviations from the itinerary described below.
Arrive in Arona on the southern shores of Lago Maggiore and immediately be enchanted. Stroll along the waterfront, admiring the towering Rocca Borromeo across the water. Pause for a caffè or gelato in Piazza del Popolo then meandering the shopping street, via Cavour. It is not too early to find a perfect gift for someone special or a memento for yourself. Or maybe visit the Sacro Monte di San Carlo and the St Charles Colossus to get amazing views and see where we row. Enjoy a delicious welcome dinner, meet your guides and support team and get an orientation to the trip.
It’s a short ferry trip across to Angera where we find our boats and head out for our first row. This southernmost arm of Lago Maggiore is the most intimate part of the lake, where Lombardy to the east and Piedmont to the west almost touch. Our row takes us to one of the most spectacular visits of the entire lake. Santa Caterina del Sasso is a hermitage and monastery cut into the cliffs above the lake. We will climb the stairs to the original Chapel of the Rock and will admire the frescoes of the Chapterhouse, as well as the wonderful views. We leave the boats in Reno and return to Arona. What shall we do this afternoon? Maybe a little wine tasting? Stroll the waterfront? Anticipated rowing distance – 17 km.
Rowing from Reno, we will follow the western shore to pass Stresa, considered la grande dame of the lakeside resorts, and renowned for its magnificent villas and a series of grand hotels dating from the 19th century. The real highlights of the row however are the charming Isole Borromee, three small islands of villas, formal gardens and a tiny village. The Borromeo family were bankers who rose to nobility in the 1450’s. Their prestige and wealth is especially obvious on Isola Bella, dominated by a palazzo. Isola dei Pescatori was once a fishermen’s village, while Isola Madre is filled to the brim with the lush vegetation of its gardens. On the far end of the Golfo Borromeo is Feriolo, where we will leave the boats. From there a drive to Pallanza, almost as elegant as Stresa. The rich and diverse gardens at Villa Tàranto were developed over decades by a wealthy Scotsman, who planted seeds from around the world. We will visit the gardens before continuing along the shore to Cannero Riveria, our home for the next two nights. Anticipated rowing distance – 15 km.
In the morning we return to Feriolo to continue rowing. We will follow the shore all the way to Cannero Riveria. This will give us time to observe the multitude of villas and gardens and little beaches and start enjoying views as the hills grade higher and higher into the edge of the Alps. Before landing we will circle the nearby islands dominated by a huge castle. We will have time to relax in the afternoon, perhaps swimming at the beach or strolling the shore lined with orange, lemon, olive, magnolia, azalea and mimosa trees. Off the main road and away from the crowds, this is a seductively quiet Italian paradise. Tonight dinner is on your own. Anticipated rowing distance – 22 km.
The row from Cannero Riveria to our next hotel is quite short, if we were to take the direct route. We will enjoy a more circuitous route, crossing the lake to stop in Caldè. There is a pretty church above an equally charming town which we will visit before rowing a little further for our lunch stop. Onward to our hotel. A little surprise awaits – this might be the most unique way you have ever left a rowing shell … Dinner tonight is in Maccagno, a short ride away, at a lovely beachside restaurant complete with wood fired oven for pizzas. Mamma mia, this will be tasty. Anticipated rowing distance – 24 km.
Our last day of rowing is, as expected, spectacular. We also will do something that you don’t often get to do – row into another country. First we cross to the western shore of the lake, pausing to admire beautiful Colmegna. As we follow the curves of the winding lake we can see high mountains ahead of us, green slopes behind us, churches and towns beside us. Then we are in Switzerland – will you be able to tell where the border is? For sure it will be obvious when we row between the Isole di Brissago. A little break here means that you are on Swiss soil before we return to Italy for lunch. Then on to Luino – we are rowing the boats home. Return to relax at our lovely lakefront hotel. Enjoy a sumptuous farewell dinner and the chance to say thank you to the wonderful team who have made this all possible for us. Anticipated rowing distance – 30 km.
Sadly, all good things come to an end. But the magic of Lago Maggiore will stay with you as you bid farewell to this beautiful area. It will have cast a spell on you, and will draw you back again some day.