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ART AND CULTURE LAKE MAGGIORE. Museums and exhibitions

ART AND CULTURE LAKE MAGGIORE Museums and exhibitions Art and Nature are the twin glories of the Lake Maggiore area, and the numerous museums recording the history and culture of the area often stand in
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ART AND CULTURE LAKE MAGGIORE Museums and exhibitions Art and Nature are the twin glories of the Lake Maggiore area, and the numerous museums recording the history and culture of the area often stand in a beautiful natural setting by the lake or in the nearby mountains and hills. The Landscape Museum in Verbania Pallanza, founded with the intention of highlighting the scenic beauty of the Lake Maggiore area through art, contains a large collection of paintings, sculptures and objects of archaeological interest. In Santa Maria Maggiore in the Vigezzo Valley, known as the Painters Valley, the Rossetti Valentini Museum has a fine collection of works by the many excellent artists who have worked in the valley. Unusual museums include the Hat Museum in Ghiffa and the Umbrella Museumin Gignese. Two more modern museums on Lake Orta are the Museum of Design and themuseum of Taps, both definitely worth a visit, while ancient traditions and customs are on display in the Museum of the Mountains in Macugnaga and the Museum of Woodworking in the Strona Valley. Art exhibitions are also regularly held in the museums. Churches and folk piety Spirituality, mysticism and art come together in the wealth of beautiful churches and cathedrals found everywhere in the Lake Maggiore area. Many of these buildings have immense cultural and historical value. Some not to be missed are the ancient church in the village of Carmine Superiore near Cannobio, high on a cliff looking directly over Lake Maggiore; the Walser church in Macugnaga near the seven-hundred year old Lime Tree; the beautiful church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio in Domodossola, built on the ruins of an earlier Romanesque Church; and the parish church of Ghemme in the Novara hills area with its splendid Baroque facade. Some of the churches are santuari or shrines, places of pilgrimage associated with a miracle, like the Santuario of the Madonna del Boden in Ornavasso, or that of the Madonna di Re in the Vigezzo Valley, an imposing structure which attracts thousands of pilgrims every year, or the Santuario of the Crucifix at Boca in the Novara hills area. Another must is a visit to the Sacro Monte devotional complexes in Domodossola, Ghiffa and Orta San Giulio, UNESCO World Heritage sites all built in commanding hilltop situations with wonderful views. Ancient villages The Lake Maggiore area is characterised byancient villages, beautiful valleys and breathtaking lake and mountain views. The Walser people left their unique architectural heritage in the villages of Macugnaga in the Anzasca Valley and Formazza in the Formazza Valley. The age-old settlements of the Vigezzo Valley are ravishingly pretty, with their houses and churches typical of the Alpine environment. The villages and little towns on both the Piedmont and Lombard shores of Lake Maggiore also take you back to the past, while the traditional casolari or farmhouses still stand picturesquely on the hills of Novara. Music and performing arts The Lake Maggiore area is home to many cultural festivals and events held throughout the year. Classical music events include the Settimane Musicali of Stresa from May to September, and the Classicamente series of concerts held in Verbania in May and June. In Arona the International Organ Festival Sonata Organi takes place in June and July, and the acoustic guitar festival Un paese a sei corde is held on Lake Orta from June to September. On the Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore, the festival of Theatre and Comedytakes the stage in Luino every summer, while the city of Varese hosts the Varese Gospel Festival and the Cortisonici short film festival. Last but not least, the city of Novara presents a Gospel Festival, the Novara Cine Festival and thenovara Street Festival. Literature The scenery of Lake Maggiore has been a source of inspiration for a procession of writers from near and far. Hemingway set parts of A Farewell to Arms in Stresa and the northern part of the lake;dickens was enraptured with Isola Bella. The connection with writers continues in the many literary events held annually in the area: the Stresa prize for Fiction; the book festival Editoria & Giardini, on the theme of gardens; the Fabbrica di Carta, the most important book fair of the area;letteraltura, a festival focusing on mountains and mountain literature; and the Piero Chiara Prize, in memory of the Luino writer Piero Chiara, who drew much of his inspiration from the Lake Maggiore area. Folklore and traditions The main feauture of the Lake Maggiore is a mix of cultures and people: the Walser peoples, for instance, coming from the nearby Switzerland, have settled in the Anzasca Valley as well as in the Formazza Valley. These traditions are celebrated all year throughfolkore feasts dedicated to religious festivities, local costumes and food. Among them, the San Bernardo Fair in Macugnaga, the Raduno degli Spazzacamini (chimney sweep day) in Santa Maria Maggiore, the wine and food festival Festa della Beata Panacea in Ghemme and last but not least, the Underwater Nativity Scene in Laveno Mombello.
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