The following places (more than 10 miles, 16km from Lake Orta) make great day trips:
· Villa Taranto at Verbania. A world-famous attraction on Lake Maggiore, where the visitor may stroll for hours admiring this extensive garden full of thousands of rare and beautiful plants and trees. Web site www.villataranto.it
· Val Vigezzo. A wonderful day trip is possible by taking the single line train from Orta-Miasino to Domodossola, and then changing to the narrow gauge railway along the Val Vigezzo to Santa Maria Maggiore and Re (noted for its Sanctuary). The trip along the side of Lake Orta is beautiful; the trip on the hairpins (yes!), viaducts and tunnels of the narrow gauge railway in the Val Vigezzo is breathtaking. Winter or summer, take the small cable cars at Santa Maria Maggiore up to the ski-lifts, to walk or ski.
· Round trip Stresa-Domodossola-Locarno-Stresa. Take the train from Stresa to Domodossola, then take the small train in the Val Vigezzo (as above) the full distance to Locarno in Switzerland. You can then return via boat or hydrofoil from Locarno to Stresa. See web site www.lagomaggioreexpress.com for details of the trains, boats, and hydrofoils for this wonderful round trip.
· Val Cannobina. If you choose to visit the Val Vigezzo by car, make a round trip by returning through this spectacular gorge and then along Lake Maggiore.
· Macugnaga. Summer or winter, we recommend a trip to this skiing resort at the foot of Monte Rosa, for the walking, the mountain air, or just to see the mountain villages! You can take two cable cars from Staffa up to Monte Moro at 2800 metres for a spectacular view! From Pecetto, at the head of the valley, take two chairlifts to Rifugio Belvedere (1900 metres), with the glaciers coming down from Monte Rosa in front of you! The more adventurous will want to walk on for just under an hour to Rifugio Zamboni (2050 metres) from where the 2.5km parapet of Monte Rosa and about six glaciers are right in front of you! And of course all these refuges do a great lunch!
· For those with a head for heights, try the Funivie del Lago Maggiore at Laveno Mombello, on the east side of Lake Maggiore. To get there, you can take the car ferry from Intra across Lake Maggiore (which departs half a kilometre north of the Villa Taranto). This cablecar is a series of "buckets" for 2 people, that rise quite rapidly to over 1000 metres, with superb views of Lake Maggiore throughout. More info at www.funiviedellagomaggiore.it (don't be put off by the cartoon on the home page...!).
· Safari Park at Pombia, near Arona. Drive-through safari park with white lions, tigers, buffalos, baboons, a variety of rides, several restaurants, and much more. Open March through October, 10am to 7pm, with staying open to midnight on Saturdays in late July and August. Web site www.safaripark.it
· Cascata del Toce in the Val Formazza. Stand on the amazing overhanging observation platform above Europe's second highest waterfall and watch the water thunder down some 143 metres below you. See www.valformazza.it/cascata-toce.php for details.
· Alpine Botanical Garden above Stresa. Visit these unique gardens with superb views of Lake Maggiore. Web site www.giardinoalpinia.it
· Milan and Turin. Why not drive or take the train into one of these cities? See the Duomo in Milan and nearby Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, or go just for the shopping, or wonder at Leonardo's Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie (but book well in advance on www.cenacolovinciano.org as only limited numbers of visitors are allowed). Turin has the reputational of an industrial town, but its well preserved baroque centre is testimony to it having been the first capital of Italy (see the tombs of Italy's kings at the Superga), and the faded charm hides loads of museums (try the Museo Egiziano www.museoegizio.org) and is well worth a visit too. See one of the world's most famous religous relics, the Turin shroud (www.shroud.com), which, though now shown to be medieval, still has an amazing effect, or climb up to the Colle della Maddalena for the superb view of the city.
· Getting about by train. The nearest station is Orta-Miasino, from where you can reach all over Italy. The Italian railway network is online (including a seat reservation service) at www.trenitalia.it You may also find the Malpensa Express (www.malpensaexpress.it) useful, you can drive and park at Malpensa airport, then take a train directly to Piazza Cadorna in the centre of Milan.
· Using local buses. Some local bus services are listed on www.comazzibus.com
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