Magic in Italy: Lake Maggiore and Day Trip by Train

a body of water with trees and buildings
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Trip Report Index:

Getting There
Hotel Review: St. Regis Rome
Hotel Review: Hotel De Russie
Visiting Rome
Hotel Review: The Westin Europa & Regina
Visiting Venice
Hotel Review: St. Regis Venice San Clemente Palace (previously reviewed)
Driving around Lake Garda
Hotel Review: Hotel Sirmione
Day in Sirmione
Dinner in Sirmione
Hotel Review: Hotel Ideal
Night in Verona
Lake Idro
Lake Iseo
Lake Maggiore and Day Trip by Train
Hotel Review: Sheraton Milan

Checking out of the hotel and leaving the Lake Garda area, we decided to take a drive to Lake Maggiore before heading to Locarno Switzerland. We’d then take a day trip by train, drive to Milan for a night and then back home to the US.

We drove along the west shore of the lake, which is the most picturesque side filled with little towns and stunning views.



The sun-baked house colors against the backdrop of the water was idyllic.



There were many places to stop along the way for a bite, while still keeping the water in view.


We chose a lunch place that turned out to have really good pizza.


I hadn’t planned on getting any dessert, but the coconut gelato sounded tasty so I gave it a try and was glad I did.


Back on the road, we ambled down streets and enjoyed light traffic.


Beautiful lake views.




Soon we came to the border of Italy, and passing into Switzerland was very easy.


We checked in at the Ramada Hotel La Palma au Lac Locarno, which I previously reviewed here. After settling in and walking around a bit it was time for dinner.

The Ristorante Sensi is a romantic mediterranean restaurant, with trees in the middle of the patio all decorated with twinkly white lights. The evening was warm, and the candles on each of the tables gave off a soft glow. We waited for a few minutes outside for the Maitre’d to seat us, as it was a busy place with reservations recommended. Then suddenly we were in, and guided to a prime table right next to one of the beautiful trees.


The pasta was not fall out of your chair fantastic, but good and service was swift.


The dessert menu was so fun I had to choose something, if just for the fun presentation.


I love train travel, and when I saw that there was a train option to take a day trip the next day from Locarno to Domodossola I jumped at the chance.

We ate breakfast at the Ramada, which had been included in the room rate.


We went to the train station early, found a good parking spot and purchased round trip tickets.


The train was set to depart in the next 10 minutes. While my husband went to grab a quick coffee and newspaper, I strolled along the platform by the waiting train. Stepping on I took a seat. As an afterthought, I asked a passing conductor if this was indeed the train to Domodossola. He replied that it was not, and that this train was going in the opposite direction. Uh oh. After getting directions to the correct one I hopped off the train, ran all the way to the end of the platform, crossed over, went down the stairs and found the right one. Then I realized that my husband would make the same assumption I had and end up on the wrong one. I went back over to the other train, saw him just in time on the platform and we rushed to get on the correct train. We made it just in time before the doors shut.


The train started up, and we both breathed a sigh of relief. Now we could sit back and relax.


I imagined the train speeding along quietly, offering stunning views. I’d read a book, lounge in coolly air conditioned comfort, lean back into the plush seat and maybe enjoy a light snack on the shared table between us. A romantic notion, but it started out good.


We laughed about how we had narrowly missed being on the wrong train, and congratulated ourselves on making it in time. We passed by a beach with sunbathers, and by towns in the foothills. We talked and settled in.


The train had started up with a slow gait, and I figured it would get faster. Alas, it did not. It ever so slowly wound around and around the hills, and the air conditioner was no match for the heat of the day so the seating compartment was too hot, especially with the sun streaming in the big windows. The large table I had envisioned was only large enough to hold a single bottle of water, and no one came by with a snack cart. As the train went up the mountain, it was almost comical how it creaked and groaned. I was reminded of the children’s story of The Little Engine Who Could. If possible the train seemed to go even slower, and there were no more great views since it just wound around and around at a terribly slow pace.

My husband and I both became quiet. He knew I had been excited about the train, and didn’t want to say anything in case I was having a great time. Finally, we decided that it was enough already. I simply couldn’t stand going around and around, and then the jokes started about how we wished we had missed the train. We hopped off at the next station, and were told that another train would be coming back the other way in about 20 minutes.


No problem. Glad to be off the stuffy train, we walked around a bit.


We even found a good place to have a picnic, much better than it would have been on the train.


The train pulled into the station right on time, and we happily got back on to go back the way we came.


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  1. What an outstanding photo-essay with great pictures. We went to Tuscany in 2012 and will head back next year to the Northern Riviera. Now I will have to add this to a future Italy trip. Thanks for posting!

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