Discovering the shores of Lake Maggiore has to start with a holiday in Stresa, the famous town overlooking the Borromeo Gulf.
Stresa was founded before the year one thousand, when it was a small community of fishermen and farmers. Only during the subsequent rule by the Milanese patrician family of the Borromeos did the works to which Stresa owes its fame and modern structure begin, including construction of the famous palaces and gardens on Isola Bella and Isola Madre. Its fame as a tourist destination began in the nineteenth century, when the luxurious aristocratic villas were built, including Villa Pallavicino and Villa Vignolo. Then, thanks to the construction of the London-Paris-Milan railway line, travellers and writers from all over Europe began to discover the beauty of Stresa and Lake Maggiore, strengthening its international reputation.
Holidays in Stresa are the perfect opportunity to take a wonderful relaxing and cultural break in a charming setting that evokes the atmosphere of the Belle Epoque. The three Borromean Islands, quickly accessible from Stresa, attract lovers of art, history and botany. Isola Bella and Isola Madre are enriched by opulent palaces and rare plant gardens where peacocks, parrots and pheasants roam free in an exotic atmosphere reminiscent of distant lands. Isola dei Pescatori, however, is known for the simplicity of the old village, considered one of the most picturesque places on the Lake Maggiore. Villa Pallavicino, a typical mid-nineteenth century building, is renowned for its zoo, a large 20 -hectare park that provides a habitat for a large population of local flora and fauna.
Stresa’s elegant and refined lake front offers a spectacular view of the Borromeo Gulf. Walking along the lakeside, your eyes will be drawn to the Art Nouveau hotels and the three Borromean Islands. For lovers of landscapes and photography, the top of Mount Mottarone Stresa, overlooking the valley, is unmissable. A privileged vantage point, Mottarone is known as the mountain of the two lakes, for its strategic position between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta.
Stresa is the starting point for other unforgettable excursions along the lakeside. To the north you can quickly reach the town of Pallanza, a quiet tourist centre, and Verbania, home to Villa Taranto, known around the world for its wonderful garden full of flowers and rare plants. Moving further up the lake you'll come to the village of Cannero Riviera, appreciated for its sunny position and famous for growing lemons. Especially impressive in this area are the ancient fortifications, the famous Castles of Cannero, located on a small archipelago of three islands facing the town. Moving southwards, you’ll reach the town of Arona, opposite the Rocca d'Angera, a fully preserved medieval building which houses the original Museum of Dolls and Toys. On the opposite lakeside to Stresa, perched on the sheer rock at one of the deepest points of Lake Maggiore, stands the Hermitage of Santa Caterina, a monastic complex of three buildings dating back to the thirteenth century.
Don’t waste time: check out our holiday packages to Stresa and get ready for a brand new, unforgettable adventure!