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Nothing was on the agenda for our day on Lake Maggiore – today was a free day on our Insight Vacations Italian Escapade tour. We were free to relax, explore, shop, sleep, enjoy the pool and spa at Grand Hotel Dino or anything else we cared to do. The weatherman had promised a day of miserable rain and high winds for the area, so Tour Director Mark had wisely decided that it wouldn’t be much fun to do the optional “Three Lakes Experience” excursion (bad visibility and possible seasickness). This was fine with us as we were happy to have a day off from needing to be anywhere, and also just wanted to roam alone. Thankfully, the weather forecast was completely wrong and we awoke to a glorious, warm and sunny morning – and not the torrential rain that was predicted.
After a quick buffet breakfast in the hotel ballroom (it was far too busy and noisy for our liking) we explored the hotel – inside and out. Although the outdoor pool looked very inviting, it was too chilly for us, and even though the indoor pool was heated we decided to skip it and instead, explore the town of Baveno.
In the square next to the hotel a market was in full swing – we never miss a local market! So after wandering around the stalls for awhile and trying not to buy one of everything we decided to take the ferry across Lake Maggiore to the town of Stresa (7 km/5 miles south along the lake).
The 20-minute ferry ride (€7.80 return) first stopped at the islands of Isola Superiore and Isola Bella before arriving in Stresa.
This turned out to be a delightful destination for us to explore – we wandered the tiny pedestrian streets, perused the local shops, went to a grocery store and bought fixings for a picnic lunch (Prosecco, salami, cheese, bread, olives).
Then we leisurely strolled along the promenade until 3 pm, when we caught the ferry back to Baveno.
An included “Dine Around Dinner” in Baveno was the only scheduled activity, so we met Mark and the rest of our group in the hotel lobby at 7:15 pm. Mark had given us two choices to pick from for our local dining experience – most in our group chose the more casual, rustic and family-operated Risotrante La Trappola.
Both of the restaurants were within a 5-minute walk of Grand Hotel Dino, so it was a pleasant stroll to and from dinner. Everyone in our group had a fun evening, enjoying delicious food and plenty of wine at the La Trappola.
Main course options at La Trappola included fish, steak, pizza or an omelette. Jill ordered a delicious steak and Viv ordered pizza (and as she was the only one in our group to order pizza, she got to go to the kitchen to watch the pizza being made).
The big hit was the volcano pizza with pomadore, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella baked in the wood-burning pizza oven.
Another pizza was in the shape of a heart and had pesto, pomadore and mozzarella – also delicious.
The wine flowed freely and our group spent the evening talking about all of the highlights of the trip so far.
For dessert we could pick from a beautiful fruit tart or ice cream – we ordered one of each!
We heard from the group of 5 that went to the other restaurant option, Ristorante Sottosopra, that they also had an enjoyable dining experience (although a much quieter evening than ours).
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Note: WAVEJourney were guests of Insight Vacations for their April 30 – May 12, 2013 Italian Escapade tour. Read our full disclosure statement to see that this has no effect on our reviews.