Approaching by boat, the monastery of Santa Caterina can be seen clinging perilously onto the rock overlooking the Lombard shores of Lake Maggiore. The carefully restored frescoes in the chapel are definitely worth a visit and the 180 degree views of the lake are spectacular, especially at sunset. It's a tranquil oasis away from the tourist bustle of many other places on the lake.
From the lakeside town of Laveno, you can take the cable car up the 1100m Sasso del Ferro. From the top, there are wonderful views of Lago Maggiore, the Alps and some of the smaller Lombard lakes too. The best part though is the ride itself - you stand up in cable cars which are more like human-sized buckets, completely open to the elements.
Bardolino celebrates the grape harvest each year with this five day food and wine festival. Stalls are set up along the side of the lake, each one selling their own wine and a regional speciality, for example risotto with radicchio or salt cod with polenta. You buy a tasting glass for a few euros at the start and keep it round your neck in a special box. You then visit the many stalls, sampling their wines and trying some of the dishes. Local bands and dancers provide entertainment and there are fireworks over the lake every night. It's a fantastic experience and all quite cheap too. Just make sure you don't have to drive anywhere afterwards!
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