It's been the muse for writers from Flaubert to Hemingway. Gaze into the deep, limpid waters of Lake Maggiore and you, too, may compose a masterpiece. Part of northern Italy's famous Lake District, this is Italy's longest lake. Shaped like a dangling ribbon, Maggiore stretches 42 miles, but measures only 2 to 3 miles wide. The Alps flank its pine-covered banks in the north, while in the south the lake rolls into the plains of Lombardy.