Question for Northern Italy experts: we are staying around Lago d'Orta below Domodossola for several days.
1. Sites around there?
2. Assuming they are either/both open in late-May, which pass is nicer the Simplon Pass via Domodossola or the Furka pass via Andermatt. Heading to Zermatt. The former is half as long (96 vs 201 miles) and half as much time (2.5 vs. 5.0 hrs.) but both are doable. Been up Furka and down the Oberalpen Pass many years ago, like 1978. I recall it was breathtaking. Never have done Simplon. Thought eating lunch at the Belvedere by the Rhone Glacier (Furka) would, be cool (Bond, James Bond, that is, just not in a DB2).
I have a house over the hill by Lake Maggiore. I rag my GTA or Spider over and around the lanes of Mottarone to go and have a coffee by Orta often. Orta is pretty residential with not a lot happening but it is possible to hike all the way round it. Rather than staying at Rho, which is dump, it is worth noting that Arese (Alfa museum) is only half an hour away by autostrada (enter at Borgomanero/Arona).
BTW You can download a free app from the iTunes store (or whatever it's called) onto an iPhone as a museum guide to give you an idea but I'd budget at least half a day. Parking is free. The bookshop is ruinous and the cafe/restaurant very pleasant.
Orta is gorgeous. Omegna is the main town and nothing much to write home about. Mottarone is the big mountain and is worth a visit driving and or walking. There are cafes at the top and a funicular up/down to Stresa on the shore of Maggiore. The villages in the hills around Orta are pretty.
By Maggiore, an easy drive, there is more of interest: you will find Arona (very pretty town esp the old quarter), Meina, Solcio, Lesa (worth lunch/ice cream), Belgirate, Stresa and the Baveno (the Ristorante La Posta is good value) before the road bifurcates between Gravellona Toce (and then Omegna) and Verbania (the sub provincial capital and a pleasant place) and on to some very pretty towns (e.g Cannobio - great place for lunch by the water) up towards Lugano. From Stresa and Baveno you can get ferries to other places around Maggiore and the Borromean Islands (which are well worth a visit).
The other way (West) are the Colline Novarese (horses and vineyards) and Val Sesia which includes a natural park endowed by the Zegna (garments) family. A great drive on roads made for driving 60s/70s Alfas.
The Simplon Pass is OK - pretty enough - but dominated by trucks and nasty Swiss policemen who want to fine people for driving too fast. I'd say do the Furka again - much more striking. On the other hand, an advantage of doing the Simplon is the option to do the Kandersteg railway ferry and come out near Reichenbach (if you like your Sherlock Holmes).
I'd be astonished if either pass were shut at the end of May. The Italian requirement for snow tyres is over by 15 April.