As most of you know by now, we are huge fans of the Italian lake region. We've been holidaying and visiting family around Lake Como for 12 years. We were married there, our babies were baptised there and we really feel like it's a home from home.
However recently we were persuaded by Jo of Bookings For You to consider a different lake for our next holiday. Lake Maggiore.
Lake Maggiore is not far from Como but is less well known in the UK. It's 1.5 hours drive from Milan Malpensa airport and has great transport links but we had never been!
Jo has been visiting Lake Maggiore for many years and has her own holiday home there. It was this lake that inspired her to start her own Italian villa rental business once her children started school as she realised how perfect it was for families.
Bookings For You is a family business which has literally started from one holiday apartment and has grown to encompass over 350 properties across Italy and now France.
Jo personally visits and hand picks every property from 20 bed Tuscan villas, Puglian trulli and lakeside apartments. You don't need to hire a whole villa either as your party could be two people or twenty two! Whatever the requirements, because she has visited every single one she can really advise what will suit you.
The booking process was very smooth and before we left the UK Jo sent us a comprehensive list of what we might enjoy in the area. Including what she has found suits children of different ages. You come away feeling very looked after!
Once we were sold on the idea of trying a new Italian lake, Jo suggested we stay at Golfo Gabella. This is a resort of apartments in a beautiful setting right next to the Lake.
As you can see from the photo above Golfo Gabella is in a perfect location. You couldn't be closer to the water! You have wide, unspoiled views of the lake.
Italians call this type of location a 'Bella posizione' meaning that the place fits very well into its setting. Here you have the apartments behind you, stunning swimming pools with lake views and you are surrounded by green hills and mountains.
When you arrive, head to the little reception office which has parking provided. The staff speak English well and you are given a very comprehensive pack of information and told where you can park securely under the building if you have a car.
You're also given a map of the resort, the nearby village of Maccagno and any information you'd like about activities while you're there.
Wifi is included in your stay and you're given two keys to the resort. One for your room and one for any external doors and gates. Although it's a very safe area it's nice to think that they care about security and that you won't find non guests using the facilities.
Our experience at reception was incredibly good, my Husband actually commented on how brilliant it was as they seemed to have thought of everything.
The apartment areas are painted in lovely, very warm Mediterranean colours. I was very pleased that they aren't high rise. They don't appear too imposing on their surroundings. The outside areas are very well maintained and the gardens manicured.
There are two swimming pools, one main one and another for children, plus a hot tub. There's a lot of space around the pool with loungers and big white chairs to sink into as you watch the view. The resort seems well organised to accommodate people and yet still feels like it's not too busy.
Inside the apartments you have a main open plan living area leading on to a balcony. I was a bit worried about the balcony with small children. The balconies at Nonno's house are always a bit treacherous! But these were very well contained and not a concern at all.
The whole apartment was spotlessly clean and very modern. You had everything you needed to cook each night if you wished. Plus the added convenience of a dishwasher! The bathroom was also very slick, well kept and as with everywhere in Italy so much bigger than English bathrooms!
Close to the resort
So apart from the lovely outdoor pools what can you do in this area?
Next to the reception office there is a bar which serves drinks, and light meals such as panini, piadine (wraps), burgers and gelato.
Literally 2 minutes walk from the resort there is a long stony beach which backs on to grass and trees. The children loved it here and ran around like crazy people letting off steam and throwing stones in the lake. They found sticks and creatures and did very simple things which seemed to bring them the most fun!
There is also a playground a short walk along the lake from the resort.
In front of the complex you will see a small marina. If you ask in reception they can arrange for you to hire a motor boat if you don't have a license or a sailing boat if you do. This is the perfect way to see the lake and get to all the hidden spots not everyone else sees!
This is the village where the resort is located. It has the best of both worlds as you can find a train station, ferry stop, supermarket and shops. You can then wander through the ancient streets to stop and marvel at the beautiful scenery.
There are some very pretty churches, an Oratorio (Sunday school), and a particular desire to paint your front door here! We went exploring and loved getting lost down the tiny alleys.
What to see and do
From the village and resort it's easy to take in other villages both on the same side of the lake as you're staying and across the water.
From the ferry stop in Maccagno you can take a short trip to the stunning villages of Cannobio and Cannero. On Sundays Cannobio has a market. On Wednesdays Luino a small nearby town, has a market which is said to be the biggest weekly market in Europe!
We had a day trip here and really enjoyed taking part in the feel of an Italian market day. There is a lot of chatting, coffee drinking and not much work is done! My Italian Husband got all nostalgic here as he remembers market day being such a big thing growing up.
You can of course visit the famous Borromean Islands with their white peacocks! And much more which I will write about in my next post as the sights of Lake Maggiore deserve an essay all of their own!
Other activities close by are sailing, climbing, hiking, canyoning windsurfing, and kite surfing. If you have a group of 10-15 people you can hire your own taxi-boat to take you around the lake and stop wherever you wish!
If you would like to go cycling, the staff at reception can arrange bike hire for you.
There are plenty of restaurants and pizzeria in Maccagno which you can walk to and Golfo Gabella are happy to give you recommendations. They can also book babysitters for anyone wishing to have a carefree dinner! Although remember that in Italy children are welcome everywhere and treated like kings!
As I've mentioned Maccagno has a train station. At the moment you can take a direct train from Milan Malpensa airport all the way here. It's possible in the future there will be one change.
Taxis can be arranged from the airport but be aware taxis in Italy cost more than in the UK.
There is also a car sharing service called E Vai where you can arrange to meet and share transport with others.
You can get by without a car if you are happy to use the train and small ferry boats to sightsee. If you are mainly staying in the resort by the pool you probably won't need a car.
However there is so much to take in around the lake that I would advise to hire a car at Malpensa airport so you really have the freedom to explore!
Have you been tempted to try an Italian lake holiday this Summer?
Did you know Golfo Gabella also offer exceptional rates in Autumn/Winter?
Contact Bookings For You for rates and availability...
**This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are 100% my own.**