I went to Lake Maggiore twice. The first time in 2012 when I stayed in Stresa towards the south. I went back the following year and stayed on the opposite shoreline in Maccagno.
There was a particular style of tea towel around Lake Maggiore in 2012 – very large especially wide, on a white background with a red patterned border. I bought four tea towels on this holiday but gave two away as Christmas presents. I kept one with a map of the lake, which always brings back memories and was used to plan a second trip in 2013. The second one I kept was of pasta, the different shapes and where they originated from. The two I gave away were of the wine regions of Italy and cheeses from across Italy. I don’t drink wine and am not a big fan of Italian cheese so it seemed like a good compromise. There are people across the UK who are suffering in silence, having received the annual ‘compulsory’ tea towel from me.
The two I kept are excellent for wiping up, very functional, good for wiping big items, absorbent and made from sturdy cotton. I love them because they are good traditional tea towels for tourists like me who want to remember a holiday they enjoyed.
The map of Lake Maggiore gives you an idea of how big it is, that it is surrounded by other lakes and within itself has a number of islands tourists can visit. It is, in fact, the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in Southern Switzerland, is 66 kilometres long and has the Borromean islands within its shores. Although it shows that Switzerland borders the north of the island, it doesn’t really show that nearly a third of Lake Maggiore is within Switzerland. The great thing about Lake Maggiore is the public transport system i.e. the water buses. There are stops all around the shoreline, where there are places to visit; you can go along the same shoreline or cross the water. You can even travel to another country. You can buy a ‘pass’ for a couple of days or for a week, which is good value for money and allows unlimited travel. On a hot sunny day, the journey on the boat is an excursion in itself, just doing a round trip is pleasurable even if you don’t get off the boat.
Staying in Stresa was great; it is a delightful, pretty little town with a low key restaurant, used by locals, selling the most amazing cannelloni in tomato sauce. The water buses from Stresa take you to the Borremean Islands which are all so different. I liked the Isola Pescatore best; it was possible to walk all round the island, there were lots of little shops and it was really cute. It was where I bought all the tea towels so no wonder it gets my vote!!! And the ice creams were delicious, especially mango. In Italy, you really need to have ice cream every day. I remember, that in Stresa we weren’t far from the Botanical Gardens, set on the Lake’s edge reached by boat. It was easy to take a bus from Stresa to the nearby lake of Orta. In the town of Orta, we found a tea room in a cool courtyard with dainty and ornate metal garden tables and chairs, with masses of bougainvillaea and serving loose leaf tea, would you believe (friends had warned me that I would never find real tea in Italy. Well I proved them wrong). The tea towel also shows some local pottery (and I bought a jug), the Museum of Hats and the cable car I travelled on – great memories.
The pasta tea towel just shows me all the different pasta shapes you can buy and where they originate from. So have you tried Trenette, Pappadelle, Tortiglioni, Ziti, Fusilli, Tagliatele, Casa Recce, Cavatelli, Orecchiette, Penne Mezzane, Reginette, Farfalle, Rigatoni, Pipe Rigate, Lasagnette, Tripolini, Anellini, Quadratini to name but a few. It’s good to have a reference point for pasta in the kitchen without having to refer to Mr Google. Tea towels can be a great source of information, key snippets of information rather than having to buy a whole book on the subject. Looking at the tea towel, as I write, I could just eat a bowl of pasta, as served at Lake Maggiore – plain tomato with a salad.
I did go back to Lake Maggiore in 2013 with my friend’s grandchildren. We stayed in an apartment in Maccagno – a different side of the lake and much nearer to Switzerland. Without my ‘map’ of Lake Maggiore on the tea towel I forgot how far apart Stresa and Maccagno were. Italy with young children also gives you a different perspective and a different holiday. This was my excuse to go to the Chocolate Factory, travel on a train, eat loads more ice cream, spend time on a beach and see a Falconry Display. We even travelled to Switzerland, to Locarno, ate bagels with smoked salmon and found yet another, very sophisticated, tea room with loose leaf tea. It doesn’t get better than that. And I still found two tea rooms in Cannobio serving loose leaf tea.
There is no doubt that having some good tea towels brings back lots of good memories.
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum