The Consorzio Operatori Turistici Lago Maggiore based in Stresa has produced a small guide to the zone. It's not so much an itinerary as a list of places you should not miss, so here goes.
THE BORROMEO ISLANDS
Isola Pescatori is the fisherman's island and the smallest. Full of narrow and ancient alleys it's a place for lunch.
Isola Madre or mother island is the largest and described as a huge floating botanical garden with plants from around the world. Don't tread on the peacocks.
Isola Bella, the island of beauty, is home to the Borromeo Palace and Italian terraced gardens.
The Alpina Garden overlooks Stresa while the Villa Pallavicino is located in an old 19th century patrician house and doubles as a biopark.
Villa Taranto was created in 1931 having been donated by Scottish captain McEachharn. Here the winter gardens are made up of over thirty thousand specimens.
Now, having booked a holiday in the Italian lakes your first stop has to be the Museum of Umbrellas or, to give it its full title, the Museum of Umbrellas and Sunshades of Gignese.
Not surprisingly unique, it is a homage to the umbrella making tradition and artisans who exported their skills across the world from the zone. Social history at its best.
More local traditions can be discovered in Quarna Sotto while the Historical Museum of Macugnaga is reviving the customs of the Walser culture still widespread on the slopes of the Monte Rosa.