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Thursday, August 11, 2011
6:42 AM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
I joined Fabri on one of his most popular excursions -- the boat trip to the weekly market in Luino. It's the largest market anywhere on the lake and takes place each Wednesday, all year round, covering the entire center and lakefront of the town. Luino by car is about halfway around Lago Maggiore from Stresa, on the Lombardia side, and to reach it by car could take two hours. Arriving with Fabri by boat is shorter, and oh so much nicer. He puts together a wonderful day:
We met at the small docking area directly in front of La Palma Hotel. This is the rocky beach where many of the water taxis and small boats embark and disembark. This was our motoscafo, a typical one here on the lake. It holds about 40 passengers comfortably. We all had a great view out the windows to take photos.
Luino was busy with many boats large and small. The large ferry is the Venezia, which can also be taken from Stresa to reach the market as well as other towns along the lake.
And Luino was busy! Much better that we had arrived by boat ... had we tried by car we would have been stuck in traffic jams on either side of town. Trying to get through town by car, or to park, seemed impossible. Even motorbikes and scooters were packed in so closely that their owners had trouble locating their own in the jumble.
I would need aerial photographs to give any indication of the size of this market, or the density of the crowds. Believe me when I say it is massive. So massive and crowded that I quickly became disoriented as to my whereabouts in the town, and ultimately found myself in a location on the lake far from where I thought I was.
But if you like markets, or market bargains, this is the best. All the usual items: enough scarfs, shoes and bags to adorn every woman in Piemonte I think. Men's clothing better represented than I've seen at other markets. And some things I haven't seen at most: a woman with a microphone doing her own 'infomercial' for handy kitchen products...
Actually a great selection of kitchen products in general, beautifully displayed at several booths. People were snapping up all sorts of espresso makers, cups and saucers.
I saw several tables with this type of grappa and liquore selection.
Apparently I missed much also, such as the food section, such a shame as this is always my favorite, and the live animal section, which would have been fun to see. The crowds were maddening. If you don't like that or become claustrophobic, maybe better to stay to the fringes of the market. And for reprise from it all, there are still quiet spots to be found just a few streets away.
After a couple hours of market we met again at the boat. Fabri's next stop for us was an up close and personal ride around the Castelli di Cannero, those very special ruins on small islands, just off of the Cannero Riviera coast. This was a great opportunity to see the castles from all angles. For some time now the Borromeo family, owners of also this property for centuries, has been renovating the larger of the castles. On the smaller of the islands, this sunny and warm day attracted many pleasure boaters to it, to climb or swim, or picnic with an umbrella on the hot rocks. It was great getting so close and seeing this column and statue at one end of the small island.
On the other side of the same island picnicers cover the rocks.
The larger castle is heavily under construction. I can't wait to see the results!
Another view of the larger castle...
We made one more stop before returning to Stresa. We docked at the town of Cannero Riviera, lovely, calm, and peaceful compared to Luino. What a perfect spot to unwind for a lunch before the fast boat ride home. I dined at Ristorante '900, directly on the lake, and enjoyed a glass of white wine and a plate of trofie with pesto, green beans, and potatoes. Perfect...
What a fun day out, made easy by Fabri and our boat captain.
Due to the popularity of the Luino market Fabri takes a full 40 passenger boat each Wednesday in season, but remember, he will arrange any tour that you would like to make, from one person to one hundred, at your convenience and to your specifications. Reach him at:
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