There are a number of Lake Maggiore museums well worth visiting. In fact, Lake Maggiore offers an extremely eclectic mix of museums. As a result, there should certainly be something to meet everyone’s tastes and interests whether it’s modern art, sport, history or even transport.
European Museum of Transport
The Ogliari Museum of Transport was once situated in Ranco on Lake Maggiore. Now the artefacts have now been moved to a bigger site near Milan Malpensa airport. This museum guides you through the history of transport from the beginning of the XIX century to today. The museum owes its existence to Francesco Ogliari. He was a university lecturer and writer on transport history. Transport was his lifelong passion. He founded the museum in 1954 in Ranco to share his work with others. What you see today if the result of over 40 years of his research.
‘Gottard Park’ Museum, Castelletto Ticino
This is a definite case of a private collection getting out of hand! Gottardo was an extremely successful Milanese businessman. After his retirement in 2003, he started up the museum. He did so to be able to share his private transport collection with others. The museum opens every day all year round but has reduced opening hours off season.
Ferrari Museum, Maranello
Another transport museum, but this time aimed at those with a passion for fast cars. The Ferrarri Museum is a definite day trip from Lake Maggiore but it’s great for car lovers. You can totally immerse yourself in the various Ferrari exhibits. These include a constantly changing display of forty Ferrari models, trophies, engines, photographs and production models. You can also trace the evolution of Ferrari by observing recreated models of Enzo Ferrari’s shop and residence in Modena. Both of these preceded the creation of the Maranello factory. There is a small projection room that continuously shows racing footage. Not only that. There is also a life size race pit and two simulators (a GT and an F1). Climb on board and try out your driving skills.
A gift shop is also located within the Galleria Ferrari where you can shop for official Ferrari merchandise. Outside the museum, various companies offer visitors the chance to drive the Ferrari of their choice.
San Siro Museum, Milan
Perfect for fans of football, the museum is dedicated to both Inter Milan and AC Milan. It tells the story of the two clubs through various memorabilia. These range from football strips to the cups and trophies and footballs. The entrance to the museum is from gate 14 of the San Siro stadium. It’s possible to visit the museum as well as enjoy a tour of the stadium itself. It’s open every day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. with possible variations on match days and days of events.
Museum of Modern Art, Maccagno
This museum holds a small collection of modern art.
Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza, Varese
This Museum of Contemporary Art offers visitors room after room of art collected by Giuseppe Panza. He built up his collection across the second half of the twentieth century. These days it includes some of the world’s most important pieces of American Environmental Art.
Chocolate Factory and Museum, Caslano
This has got to be the most mouth watering of the museums near Lake Maggiore! The museum presents the world of chocolate from its origins to this day. Following a catwalk, visitors are introduced to the various steps of chocolate making. At the end of the tour, a visit to the shop will give you the chance to try some of the Alprose products. The factory is usually open for production on weekdays so it’s best to visit then.
Rocco di Angera housing the Museo della Bambola (Doll Museum)
This is one of our favourite Lake Maggiore museums! Over 1000 dolls, toys, books, dolls’ furniture and table and board games are on display here.
Angera Museum of Archeology
The Museum of Archeology is housed in a late 15th century building in Angera.
The Cantonal Museum of Natural History, Lugano
This is open Tuesday – Saturday and admission is free.
Museo Comici, Verscio
All the articles on exhibit in this museum are directly connected with comic theatre, the circus and the figure of the clown. Exhibits include posters, photographs, musical instruments, masks, sculptures, toys, clowns, and even elephants! There is also a projection of films by the greatest comedians, including Grock, the king of clowns.
Castello Viscontio, Locarno
This castle of the Visconti family of Milan dates back to 998 and is a central monument of Locarno. The archeological museum is now housed in the castle. The 15th-century inner courtyard and richly inlaid ceilings can be seen when you visit. The museum also displays valuable vases and hand-blown glass goblets. It’s also home to artefacts from Roman times. In addition, one room commemorates the Peace Conference held in Locarno. This conference was an attempt to end World War I.
Chimney Sweep Museum, Villa Antonia, Malesco
This is one of the more unusual Lake Maggiore museums. It records the life of the many local chimney sweeps whose hard trade led them to emigrate from the valley throughout Europe, often at great personal sacrifice. Every September, sweeps from all over the world come to the singular International Chimney Sweeps Gathering in Santa Maria. Italians have countless number of cultural traditions such as this one which ensures that they retain their ties to past generations.
Museums on Lake Orta
There are a number of additional museums on neighbouring Lake Orta which might also be of interest to visitors. The first of these is the Royal Italian Army Museum on the island of San Guilio. Also of interest is the Museum of Musical Instruments at Quarna Sotto and the Museum of Wood Carving at Pettenasco.