Meina is a graceful town on the shores of Lake Maggiore. The awesome alpine setting has a surprisingly mild climate and many varieties of exotic plants thrive here. Ferry boats transport visitors across the glacial lake to the villages scattered along the shore, with a backdrop of spectacular mountains.
While Meina was already established in the Bronze Age, it become a settlement in the 10th and 11th centuries when a monastery was planted here. Originally called Madina, it became a feudal possession of the wealthy noble northern families for several centuries. The town really developed in the 19th century, though, when it became a playground and touristic getaway for the upper classes of northern Italy and southern Switzerland.
Meina is often called the "village of villas" because of then many grand residences that dot the shoreline. Villa Eden is a neo-Palladian palace with Renaissance-inspired symmetry. Villa Faraggiana has an elegantly classical facade with formal gardens that form the foundation of the Museo Botanico. The Palazzo Municipale was built in the 1800s with various colored local granite stones. It boasts beautiful ceiling frescoes in the Council Salon.
The charming chapel La Madonnina was built in the 1700s with a Baroque portal and an impressive fresco of the Madonna with child. The church of Santa Maria Assunta occupies a hilltop position where a fortress once stood. The Romanesque church was built in the 11th century with a tall Medieval bell tower. Frescoes were added in later centuries.
The main attraction is Meina, however, is the lake. Water sports are a lure, but there are also beaches for those who just want to relax. The surrounding mountains offer ample opportunity for hiking, horseback riding and enjoying the great outdoors. Enjoy a walk along the shore-side promenade, which is especially lovely at night when the lights of the other towns twinkle on the lake and hills. There are several waterfront restaurants that offer freshwater fish and other regional specialties.
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