Steamboats and the Belle Époque on Lake Maggiore

Orario 1° giugno 1906, colori Michael Huber, Milano

June 1st 1906 schedule, color by Michael Huber, Milan

When steamboats started crossing Lake Maggiore in 1826, they were an instant success.

As one 19th-century chronicler explained, they were first introduced by a company whose shareholders soon split into two separate shipping lines: Sardo-Ticinese (backed by Swiss shareholders) and Lombarda (backed by Lombard ones).

The first steamboat to sail from Locarno – where it had been built the previous winter – was the “Verbano”, launched under Edoardo Church.

“The boat is beautifully made, and comfortable inside: it easily has room for over four hundred people, and a large quantity of cargo. During the summer, it runs across the lake twice a day, in less than six hours […] It fights against and overcomes feisty winds with only the slightest delay” (translated from G. Casalis, “Dizionario geografico storico-statistico-commerciale degli Stati di S. M. il Re di Sardegna”, Turin 1841).

Over the decades, Maggiore’s fleet grew quickly: in the early 1920s there were 18 paddle steamers, 6 screw steamers, and about ten motor vessels (motorboats and hydrofoil would come later).

Here is a gallery of posters that tell the story of the Belle Époque on Lake Maggiore.

February 3, 2016

Steamboats and the Belle Époque on Lake Maggiore

province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Novara, Varese