Verbania is a town on the western side of Lake Maggiore in Piedmont, on the Borromean Gulf. It is the largest town on the lake, and a major ferry terminal for those exploring Lake Maggiore by boat. The town is best known for the Villa Taranto botanical gardens.
The starting point for visitors to Vernabia is usually the lake-frontage area and the walk along the waterfront, which is attractively planted and a very enjoyable place for your evening promenade.
You can then visit the adjacent old part of the town where most places of historic interest are situated. Verbania is large enough to be less overrun with tourists than the smaller villages around the lake, so it is even possible to feel that you are in a genuine Italian town rather than a tourist resort!
It is in the Pallanza district of Verbania that you can visit one of the most prestigious villas and gardens to be found on Lake Maggiore. The Villa Taranto itself dates from the 19th century and the extensive gardens around the villa, established during the 1930's by a Scotsman called Neil McEacharn, are generally considered to be one of the loveliest gardens in Italy.
The gardens at Villa Taranto cover an area of 16 hectares and it is said that there are more than 20000 different species of plant here, many of them more usually found in semi-tropical regions. This is partly because there is a micro-climate here that allows many plants to thrive that can not survive elsewhere in northern Italy.
If you want to see more gardens in Verbania you can also take a stroll through the public park and gardens of Villa Giulia next to the lake.
You will also come across several churches as you explore Verbania, with the most important being the Basilica di San Vittore. The main church dates from the first half of the 18th century and is in the classical style with a grand colonnaded entrance, and statues inset in the facade above. Note that both the dome and the belltower of the basilica, which now dominate the skyline of Verbania, were only added in the second half of the 19th century.
Most of the interesting paintings and sculptures inside the basilica are actually from the 15th and 16th centuries and originated in an older church that previously stood on the same site.
Among the other churches perhaps the Church of Madonna di Campagna on Viale Azari is the most unusual, combining an ancient roman style belltower, a renaissance style main church and a must unusual octagonal 'lantern' with arcades made from slender columns. Inside this church you can see some 16th century frescoes.
One detour that is very popular from this part of the lake is to visit the Borromean islands, three islands (Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori) that between them combine lovely gardens and villas with ancient villages.
There are many other places of interest and attractions close by - see Lake Maggiore travel for suggestions.
Map of Verbania and places to visit
Verbania places to visit
See more places nearby in the Piedmont guide