Map from Google - Lake_Maggiore
In Lake Maggiore, situated at 200 metres above sea level, the climate is temperate
, with cold and damp winters and hot summers, fairly sunny but also accompanied by quite frequent thunderstorms. Because of the influence of the lake and the location at the foot of the Alps, the climate of Lake Maggiore is a bit milder and much more rainy than in the Po Valley.
The banks of the lake are divided between the provinces of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Novara in Piedmont (in the western side), and Varese in Lombardy (in the eastern side), while the northern part belongs to Switzerland, in Canton of Ticino.
Within the lake are some small islands, like the Borromean Islands (among which Isola Madre and Isola Bella), between Stresa and Verbania, and the Islands of Brissago in the Swiss side.
Some locations that are situated on the shores of lake are: in Piedmont, Cannobio, Cannero Riviera, Oggebbio, Ghiffa, Verbania, Baveno, Stresa, Belgirate, Lesa, Meina, Arona, Dormelletto, Castelletto sopra Ticino; in Lombardy, Sesto Calende, Angera, Ranco, Ispra, Brebbia, Besozzo, Monvalle, Leggiuno, Laveno-Mombello, Castelveccana, Porto Valtravaglia, Brezzo di Bedero, Germignaga, Luino, Maccagno, Tronzano Lago Maggiore, Pino sulla Sponda del Lago Maggiore; in Ticino, Ranzo, Gerra, San Nazzaro, Vira, Magadino, Tenero, Locarno, Ascona, Ronco sopra Ascona, Brissago, Minusio, Muralto.
Here are the average temperatures of Verbania, on the western shore of the lake (whose municipality is in turn divided into the villages of Intra and Pallanza). The averages cover the period 1961/90, when the climate was slightly colder than today.
Average temperatures - Verbania
in Verbania are quite abundant, since they amount to 1,565 millimetres per year: that of Lake Maggiore is one of the wettest areas of Italy. In Locarno
, in the Swiss side, precipitation even reaches 1,900 mm a year. Winter is the relatively drier season; in spring and autumn the rains are abundant when Atlantic depressions pass, due to high altitude southern currents which then climb the Alpine foothills, while in late spring and summer, thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening are quite frequent (and sometimes intense).
During the most intense waves of bad weather, which occur in autumn (but sometimes also in spring), the lake's water may overflow, flooding the coastal towns.
This is the average rainfall in Verbania.
Average precipitation - Verbania
In the cold half of the year, the wind
in Lake Maggiore is often weak or non-existent, except when the favonio
) blows, the warm, dry wind which comes down from the Alps and is able to bring clear skies and very good visibility. During the warm half of the year, under conditions of good weather, the wind is weak or moderate and follows the breeze regime
(and is more intense in late spring than in midsummer): during the warmest hours it blows from the plains to the mountains (the breeze from the south, called "inverna"), while after sunset and at night the breeze blows from the mountains to the plains (the "tramontana", the breeze from the north). The breeze is appreciated by sailors, surfers and windsurfers.
at Lake Maggiore, from December to February, is pretty cold, but less than in the Po valley, because of the warming influence of the lake. Even fog is less frequent.
There's no shortage of rainy days, though winter is the relatively drier season. Snow
is definitely more rare on the lake than in the surrounding hills, however, it usually falls at least once every year, and sometimes can be plentiful, especially in the northern side (while in Verbania snowfall amounts to about 20 centimetres per year, in Locarno, in the north, it exceeds 50 cm per year), but tends to melt soon enough. We can not exclude very cold periods, with night frosts, and temperatures around zero or even below even during the day.
, from June to August, is hot, and often sunny in the morning. The heat is less intense than in the Po Valley, in addition there's more wind because of the lake breezes. Sometimes an Atlantic front, able to bring some cool and rainy days, can pass; more often, thunderstorms can break out in the afternoon and evening. We can not exclude some particularly hot days, with highs around 35 °C.
During the summer, the water temperature of Lake Maggiore reaches 20-22 degrees, thus remains cool, except in periods of great heat, in which it can reach higher values; it also varies depending on the proximity of rivers and streams that feed it (there are several tributaries, including the Toce and the Tresa, and only one emissary, the Ticino, in the south, near Sesto Calende).
The amount of sunshine
in lake Maggiore is acceptable in winter, when there are sunny days alternating with cloudy periods (in January there are 4 hours of sunshine a day, as in Rome); in other seasons however it is not that high, because in spring and autumn Atlantic disturbances pass quite frequently, while in periods of good summer weather, cloudiness in the afternoon can form, which can lead to thunderstorms: in July, the sunniest month, there are only 8 hours of sunshine per day on average (compared for example to 9 hours in Milan and 9.5 hours in Bologna, not to mention the 11 hours of Rome).
Near Lake Maggiore are a few smaller lakes, where the climate is similar: to the west, Lake Orta (about ten kilometres away, and at 300 metres above sea level), Lake Mergozzo (which was once joined to Lake Maggiore, and is now separated by the Fondotoce plain); to the east, the lakes of Monate, Comabbio and Varese, at an altitude of around 250 metres, while in the north-east, located mainly in Switzerland, we find Lake Lugano, at 270 metres above sea level.
The best times
to visit Lake Maggiore are spring and early summer, in particular from mid-April to mid-June. Also September is a good month. You should however take into account some rainy days in both periods.
Summer, which is the best time for swimming and sunbathing, can be hot to visit the different towns and make excursions, though there are many days with acceptable temperatures, especially in June. In summer and in May, afternoon or evening thunderstorms are to be taken into account.