Stresa, Italy

Lake Maggiore

September 15th-17th, 2003

Stresa view

Stresa is about half way up the western side of Lake Maggiore. The lake (like the lochs in Scotland) is formed between the mountain ranges, so it's long and skinny. Stretching up to Switzerland, the lake is about 65km long and maximum of 4.5 km wide. It is the second largest Italian lake with a surface area of 212 km.

Lake Map

It only takes an hour to reach Stresa by train from Milan, so we arrived just in time for lunch. The town was obviously a big tourist spot in the summer, but somewhat sleepy during the fall. The majority of people wandering around seemed to be retired Americans and Germans. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we found a cafe with outside seats facing the water and ordered some pasta. There was no rush since the tourist office closed for lunch and didn't open again till three.

Looking at water across from restaurant

As soon as the tourist office opened up, we picked a bed and breakfast and dropped off our bags. Ironically, I had picked out a couple of things to do, but all were closing by 5:00pm. Since it was so late we opted for a walk along the waterfront.

waterfront walk waterfront walk
waterfront walk
waterfront walk waterfront walk

After the waterfront walk, we zigzagged along through the town streets. Looking at the restaurants and shops, I earmarked a couple of choices for dinner. One of the places we wanted to eat was quite full, with many "reserved" signs on the tables. We decided that the following evening we would either make reservations or get there early. The place we ended up eating at was good, but nothing spectacular.

Tuesday morning we ate breakfast relatively early and headed off to the boat dock. We decided to take the ferry to one of the Borreomeo Islands, Isola Bella. The island is not very big at all. It's basically a floating palace!
Isola Bella
Construction on the Baroque palace began in 1670 by Count Vitaliano Borromeo. The inside of the palace was very elegant and beautiful. I really enjoyed the lower floors which were wall to wall (and ceiling) pebbles. I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside, so please feel free to visit the website for the islands at
Palace Front

The gardens of the palace were even more beautiful. There is a wide variety of plants and a wonderful water feature. It is said that the plants are designed in such a way to create a constant blooming from March to October.
garden view as come out of palace closeup, fountains in the wall
garden shots garden shots
garden shots garden shots garden shots
garden shots garden shots
garden shots garden shots
And just to prove that we were really there!!!
garden shots garden shots

After Dave dragged me out of the beautiful garden, we stopped for lunch. I was still taking pictures from the lunch table of the island! If you look in the background you can see one of the other Borromeo Islands.
picture of another island in distance

For the second half of the day we decided to ride the Funivia (cable car) to the top at Mottarone (altitude 1491 meters above sea level). From the cable car, we hiked a short distance up a hill to this observation point.
cable lines of Funivia highest point picture from high point
This was the view as we descended on the Funivia!
View coming down Funivia

Upon returning down the mountain, we changed clothes and headed off for dinner. We decided to eat at the restaurant which was full the previous night. This time we made sure to get there early. It was a good thing we did, because by the time we left there was quite the gathering of people outside the place waiting for a table. I loved the food! I had venison stew on top of polenta and Dave had wild boar with wine sauce on top of pasta. Both were absolutely delicious!

The next morning we checked out of the hotel and caught the 9 am train back to Milan.

The Flower End

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