Guide to Lake Mergozzo

Guide to Lake Mergozzo

Lake Mergozzo is certainly one of Italy’s lesser known lakes. It’s also one of its smallest at just 2.5 km long and 1 km wide and with a depth of approximately 74 metres. Situated in the north of the country, it is nestled just to the west of the much larger Lake Maggiore and north of the sleepy Lake Orta. It sits at the mouth of the Val d’Ossola in the province of Verbano in Piedmont, separated from Lake Maggiore due to the continued flooding of the River Toce. The 2000 metre Mount Massone towers over it, its snow-capped peaks visible almost all year round.

It is also often claimed to be Italy’s cleanest lake. Certainly, with just one tributary and with water bubbling up from underground springs, there may well be some truth in this. This claim is definitely helped by the fact that motor boats are banned from the lake making it a haven for canoeists, kayakers, scullers and swimmers. And there are no industrial factories and businesses lining its shores either.

We think that Lake Mergozzo makes the perfect day trip from Lake Maggiore.

Things to see and do on Lake Mergozzo

Mergozzo is the only village along the shores of Lake Mergozzo. It is an extremely picturesque lakeside village, perched on the northern banks of the lake. Almost entirely pedestrianised, it’s the perfect village to explore on foot. Stone houses line narrow streets whilst in the central square there is an ancient elm tree, believed to be over 400 years old and which has earned the title of the ‘monumental tree of Piedmont’. The village is also home to a museum which gives an insight into the rather long and rich history of the area. It displays local finds dating back to the prehistoric and Bronze Age periods as well as simple tools that were once used to extract granite from the nearby Montorfano quarry as well as marble from Candoglia.

Pop into one of the bakeries in the village to sample fugascine, a cake baked only in Mergozzo. It is made from a mixture of flour, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon, yeast and marsala. It’s the latter that gives it its rather unique and distinct flavour whilst a crispy layer of sugar and egg whites that is added to the surface of these 1 cm thick square treats add to the texture of the cake. We think it’s rather delicious!

Lake Mergozzo

It won’t take long to explore Mergozzo, but once you have done so, we highly recommend spending time relaxing on its lakeside beaches if you’re visiting in the warmer months of the year. The almost 1 km long grassy beach area that extends from Mergozzo itself – Lido Pilastri – is a great place to while away the day. It boasts other facilities to keep everyone entertained including volleyball and there is also a cafe bar where you can purchase snacks and refreshments. There is also a children’s play area here. Alternatively, there is a second beach on the southern shores where you will also find the Bar La Rustica where you can hire pedaloes, stand-up paddle boards and kayaks. For those keen to get into the water, you may also want to try a spot of cliff diving. A series of platforms on one part of the lake allow those brave enough to launch themselves into the crystal clear waters from a height. Or make the most of the opportunity to try non motorised water sports including kayaking, windsurfing and rowing as well as fishing. If you are in Mergozzo late afternoon, then you’re likely to be able to watch the rowers out practising on the lake. The Mergozzo Boat Club is very active and the village has even seen some of its residents participate in the Olympic games over the years.

And, once you have explored Mergozzo itself, it is well worth exploring the wider area on foot too. A number of footpaths lead from Mergozzo through the surrounding countryside. These include the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail) which winds its way along the river bank to the small hamlet of Montorfano. Here you will discover the charming Romanesque Church of San Giovanni Battista. What you see today dates back to the 11th century but traces of earlier buildings dating from as far back as the 5th century have also been found here. Granite from the nearby quarry was used for the building’s construction.

You can also walk from Mergozzo to a rather unusual archaeological site just to the north of the village- the Ca’ d’la Norma. This is best described as a chamber bordered by dry-laid stones and covered with a huge block with two cups and a groove carved into it. It is impossible to be 100% certain about the date of this megalithic structure but it is believed that it probably dates back to either the Copper or Bronze Age periods and could well have served as a burial site. Just be aware that it’s not that easy to find – poor signage and badly kept paths means it can take quite an effort to find but we think it’s worth it!

Lake Mergozzo

Apart from Mergozzo, there are no other villages on the shores of Lake Mergozzo. However, on the southern banks of the lake, you will find a large campsite as well as a golf course.

Events on Lake Mergozzo

July 4th sees the annual celebration of Santa Elisabetta, the patron saint of Mergozzo. If you’re wanting to sample the famous fugascine, this is the best day to do it on. On this day, the residents of Mergozzo prepare the dough for the fugascine at home and then bring it to the bakery to cook. They make a donation to the Chiesa di Santa Elisabetta in return for the cooking. The event is also celebrated with a number of concerts and sporting events.

Where to stay on Lake Mergozzo

We think Lake Maggiore is a great base to stay if you’re looking to discover the beauty of Lake Mergozzo. Check out the Lake Maggiore apartment rentals available from Bookings For You. This Lake Maggiore villaCasa Belva – is just a 10 minute drive from Lake Mergozzo.

How to get to Lake Mergozzo

By air: Milan Malpensa is the nearest airport. It’s less than an hour from here to Lake Mergozzo. Otherwise, Milan Linate airport is approximately 1 hour 20 minutes drive whilst the journey from Milan Bergamo airport will take around 90 minutes by car.

By train: Mergozzo does have a train station which is situated about a 10 minute walk from the lakeside.

By car: It is easy to get to Mergozzo by car. However, there is limited parking in the village so you may need to be patient to find a space.