Stresa and Lake Maggiore


The famous town of Stresa enjoys a splendid location on Lake Maggiore in the Gulf of Borromeo, where it overlooks the eponymous islands, the main attraction in the region. Its beautiful countryside, architectural gems and mild climate combine to make Stresa one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy.

Luxury villas and opulent Art Nouveau hotels line the elegant lakeside, which is ideal for a tranquil stroll. Since the late 19th century Stresa has been renowned for its sophisticated atmosphere and genteel visitors, and today still enjoys an impressive roster of cultural, musical and meeting events.
Situated on the western side of Lake Maggiore, directly opposite Stresa, the three Borromean Islands lie in a wide gulf surrounded by mountains. The Borromean Islands, with their stunning palaces and ornamental gardens, are an unmissable destination for aesthetes. The islands take their name from the aristocratic Borromean family, who took ownership of the land in the 16th and 17th centuries. Only the best architects and gardeners were called on by the famous members of the family - themselves art lovers and botanists - to breathe life into their ambitious projects.
On the Isola Bella and Isola Madre there are sumptuous palaces and rare plant gardens where peacocks, parrots and pheasants roam wild against an exotic backdrop reminiscent of faraway lands. In contrast, the Isola dei Pescatori is famous for the charming simplicity of its old fishing village, which is considered one of the most picturesque spots on Lake Maggiore. Walks along the shore of Stresa offer the perfect opportunity to admire the Borromean Islands. The view is equally superb from the summit of Mount Mottarone (1491m), which dominates Stresa and offers a unique panoramic outlook. Mottarone is also known as the 'Mountain of the Two Lakes' thanks to its strategic position between Lake Maggiore and the equally beautiful Lake Orta. The cable car to the top of Mottarone also stops off at Alpino, where the Alpinia botanical gardens offer a terrace with sweeping views of Lake Maggiore.

...and Lake Maggiore

The appeal of Lake Maggiore is not confined to Stresa; in fact, the town is the perfect starting point for unforgettable boat trips on the lake or drives along its shores. Close by to the north is the tranquil tourist town of Pallanza. Its main attraction, Villa Taranto, is world-famous for its magnificent gardens of rare flowers and plants. Further up the shores of the lake lies the village of Cannero Riviera, which enjoys a sheltered location and consequently a particularly mild climate in which lemons can be grown. There is a series of evocative fortifications on the three Castelli di Cannero islets, which form a small archipelago opposite the village. From here it is also only a short distance to Cannobio - the last Italian town before the Swiss border. This beautiful and ancient little town, nestled between the mountains and the lake, today has one of the most beautiful lidos on the lake. To the south lies the tourist and commercial hub of Arona. The copper statue dedicated to the town's patron saint, Carlo Borromeo, is among the tallest in Europe at 35 m. Opposite Arona, on a rocky outcrop on the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore, sits the Rocca d'Angera, a fully preserved medieval fortress that houses the original Doll and Toy Museum. St Catherine's Hermitage clings precariously to sheer cliffs on the opposite shore to Stresa, above one of the deepest areas of Lake Maggiore. This is a monastic retreat with three buildings dating from the 13th-14th centuries that was founded by the Blessed Alberto Besozzi di Arolo. He prayed to Saint Catherine of Alexandria for rescue during a storm before living here as a hermit for 35 years. Longer stays in Stresa offer the opportunity for day trips to Milan, Lake Orta or nearby Switzerland. Shopping enthusiasts can also find typical open-air markets in many of the towns dotted around the lake.


Text courtesy of Mr. Massimo Servo. Adapted with permission from:
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