The cable cars of Lake Maggiore, commonly known as Funivie del Lago Maggiore to Sasso del Ferro mountain are no ordinary cable cars. These bucket lifts can be taken open-topped, giving you unparalleled views of over Lake Maggiore, Po Valley and the Lakes of Lombardy as you climb the heights of the snow-capped Alps in the distance. Whilst, the views are undeniably beautiful, before embarking on the trip up the mountain in the bucket lift I was terrified! I had to work up a lot of courage before braving the bucket lifts of Lake Maggiore and Adam hadn’t helped the situation…
Adam had crudely compared the bucket lifts of Lake Maggiore to a common household item (I’ll let you ponder this for yourself) and remarked how the bucket lifts are hanging but a thread. This, as you can imagine, did not alleviate my nerves!
Where to park when visiting the Bucket Lifts
In fact, I was still getting over the drive to the bucket lifts. The Sat Nav had taken us down such a narrow road to the bucket lift car park. So narrow, Adam had to physically get out the car to check beforehand that the car would squeeze through! As with most points of interest in Italy, the car park was very small and spaces were limited.
With this in mind, I would highly recommend parking at Laveno-Mombello Railway Station car park located next to the ferry crossing and walking five minutes to the bucket lifts. This car park is free every day apart from Sunday. Odd, I know but after verifying this information with the operators at the ferry terminal, we parked up and made our way to the lifts.
Climbing the mountains in the bucket lifts of Lake Maggiore
As I mentioned, braving the bucket lifts of Lake Maggiore is a tad on the scary side. For the initial descent, you literally have to jump in the bucket lift, hold on for dear life while your companion jumps in behind you and the door is closed. That said, after a few moments you really do begin to appreciate the open top and increasing views as you make your way up.
If you are too faint-hearted to brave the open-top bucket lifts, there are closed-top ones available too. The choice is yours!
Despite their small size, the bucket lifts are remarkably sturdy and we didn’t feel like we were shaking side-to-side. We were also glad of the weather as it wasn’t windy or cloudy so we had a steady, clear view over the valley below us.
Just as we thought we were getting to the top, the bucket lift climb evened out, only to make an even higher climb.
If felt like we were in the bucket lifts for around 20 minutes, but a glance at the Funivie del Lago Maggiore website suggests we were only climbing for around 10 minutes.
With my camera securely around my neck, I soon plucked up the courage to loosen my grip to take some pictures of the mesmerising view.
As we approached the top, we eyed a restaurant overlooking the valley and couldn’t resist a dining experience with such a fantastic view.
We were shown to a table on the terrace in the aptly named, Panoramic Restaurant. Taking in the views, we observed the bucket lifts ascending and descending as we sipped our drinks and placed our food orders.
To start, we shared slices of salted meat with balsamic vinegar glazed apple. A generous portion of salted beef was served, which was complemented perfectly by the sliced apple and balsamic vinegar.
As regular readers will know, my love affair with Italy began with a food masterclass with the Giovannini family and their mouthwatering wild boar dish. For this reason, I could not resist ordering the pappardelle pasta with wild boar sauce.
Adam chose one of his Italian favourites spaghetti bolognese.
After sprinkling lots of Parmesan cheese, we tucked right in. The wild boar pasta did not disappoint and was full of flavour.
The Panoramic Restaurant offers diners such a beautiful setting to dine and, in all honesty, we could have quite happily sat there all day.
The flower foliage provided a beautiful frame for my photos and videos too.
After seeing someone fly through the sky on a kite, we left this scenic spot to explore the little trails atop the cable car terminal.
Paragliding over Lake Maggiore
If braving the bucket lifts of Lake Maggiore is water off a duck’s back, why not brave paragliding off the side of the cliff?
Before you ask, I didn’t do it either. Though, weirdly part of me wondered whether I could do it…with an expert strapped to me of course!
I’m certainly no adrenaline junkie, but it sure looks like great fun!
Watching the paraglider take flight reminded me of the scene from A Bugs Life when the characters soar through the air on a bird they’ve made to scare the grasshoppers away. Yes, I have a vivid imagination.
A little crowd had gathered to watch the paragliders fly through the skies below, and everyone was caught up in the excitement (cameras at the ready.)
Shortly after, we left the crowds and soaked up the scenery on a striped two-seater swing chair. Watching the wildflowers blow in the wind and the snow-capped mountains in the distance really made us appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.
Before our visit, we really had not anticipated spending that much time atop the mountain of the bucket lifts, but the incredible scenery was too beautiful not to be enjoyed.
Adam and I sat side-by-side on the swing chair enjoying the peace and tranquility of the valley and lake views below us.
For those visiting with families, there is also a children’s play area, snack bar and pretty nature trails.
Braving the Bucket Lifts of Lake Maggiore – Worth the Risk?
Yes, the bucket lifts can be a tad scary at first but once you put those fears to one side you can fully appreciate the remarkable views. I must say, the views are even better on the way down!
All in all, I was proud of myself for braving the bucket lifts of Lake Maggiore (especially, as I’d opted for the open-top cable car!) Mesmerising views over the valley and delicious Italian cuisine is enough to entice me that’s for sure!
Would you brave the bucket lifts? If you have any recommendations for other things to do in the Italian Riviera please let me know as I’d love to explore more of this area of Italy.
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