A Chronicle of Our Trip to Lago Maggiore

Madison Qualy
June 12, 2015

My first field trip with IES was this week to Lago Maggiore in Stresa, Italy. We traveled by train- and because I had already been on a train after the infamous Malpensa airport experience, I walked on to the platform with the swagger of a seasoned veteran. We got on the train and sat down but were quickly informed that we were seated in first class with second class tickets. So much for ‘seasoned veteran’… but they let us stay in first class because the train wasn’t full.


After arriving (in some bougie first class style) to Stresa, we stopped for a quick coffee. I may have a future post in the works dedicated specifically to coffee (am I going too far here?) because it is always amazing and so cheap! In the U.S. I’m constantly breaking the bank for a Starbucks (Sixbucks?) and am typically disappointed because its bitter, burnt, and the barista is usually a brat. In Milan I haven’t paid more than 1 € for an expertly crafted espresso that is handed to me with a smile (but maybe they’re just smiling because my Italian is so bad? Whatever at least I’m trying.)


From Stresa we took a boat to Isola Madre where we visited the botanical gardens. The views there are as picturesque as one can imagine, and juxtaposed with the colorful architecture and deep blue water I swear the scenery came straight out of a Borromean Islands Pinterest board. We walked through quaint villas and lavish gardens and saw loads of exotic birds. All the native Italians walking by us shooed these striking, parakeet-looking aviates away as if they were pigeons.  Meanwhile I compared this wildlife to that of my lake house in Missouri (squirrels) and decided I’m definitely never leaving Italy.


We boated to Isola dei Pescatori for lunch, where I ordered the recommended white fish because why not order fish on the ‘Island of the Fishermen’? We took a quick look around the little island then boated to Isola Bella to tour the Palazzo di Borromeo: the grand residence that Carlo III of the aristocratic Borromeo family built in dedication to his wife, Isabella D'Adda. She is also the namesake of Isola Bella. Angelo Crivelli of Milan constructed the house and landscaped its marvelous gardens. The house is now a museum that displays the family’s art and heirlooms. Every room is decorated immaculately from floor to ceiling and each window is equipped with a balcony looking onto the strikingly beautiful lake.


After a tour of the exquisite gardens we found a staircase leading directly into the lake, where we swam in crisp water to cool off. Next to the staircase there was a tall brick wall, and as a group of around 50 twenty-something’s, our obvious first thought was to jump from it. What a fitting and classy thing to do after leaving the classiest establishment I have ever stepped foot in! Once again, the native Italians looked at us as if we had 80 heads- apparently people do not jump off this wall. But oh well we did it for the experience and it made for a sick insta (someone please stop me now that was absolutely too much).


After an amazing day on the lake, every one of us passed out on the train home (well everyone except the guy who took pictures of us all sleeping…), because us Americans aren’t used to walking so much. (Note to Americans: walk more. Italians eat a lot but aren’t fat. That’s living the dream!)


Milan- stay classy, because you know we didn’t on Lago Maggiore.




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Madison Qualy

<p>I&#39;m Madison Qualy- a swimmer at the University of Miami. Saint Louis bred me; Miami deals with me. I am a junior, double majoring in Ecosystem Science and Policy and Marine Affairs, and minoring in Spanish. I hope to attend law school and practice environmental law. I love sports, animals, and wine. Follow all the tomfoolery I get into in Milan via my posts!</p>

2015 Summer 1, 2015 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Miami
Environmental Studies
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