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Saturday, May 2, 2009

FYI -- Top Things To See In Stresa


Tourist season, traditionally April 1st through October 31st here, is underway. Many of my readers are planning their first trips to Stresa. A question that I'm often asked is this: "I've heard Stresa is beautiful, and popular, but what are the main sights? What are the must-see things?"

So here is your starting point, your quick checklist of the main attractions in Stresa and its environs, including one or two popular day trips to take from here.

The Borromean Islands: We'll count them as one although they are truly three distinct attractions. Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori, and Isola Madre.

The Stresa/Mottarone Cableway: Like the islands, this is a place that to me is composed of unique elements all in the same location. There is the cableway ride itself, the Giardino Botanico Alpinia at the midstation, and Mt. Mottarone and Alpyland at the top.


Villa Taranto: 15 hectares of spectacular English Gardens in Pallanza, a 15-minute boat ride from Stresa.

The Lago Maggiore Express: This day trip takes you first by train through the Italian Alps, charming mountain villages, the Swiss Alps, and finally back to Stresa by boat on Lago Maggiore, with the freedom to get off and on both the train and the boat in certain towns.

Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso: The approach to this 12th century abbey from the water is wonderful, the abbey, clinging to the side of the rocky mountain, is magical, and it is one of the most popular venues of the Stresa Music Festival.

The Laveno "Bucket" Lift: 1,100 meters up to the top of Sasso del Ferro mountain -- in a "bucket." There's no other way to get views like this experience!

Lago Orta: Lago Orta is a worthwhile day trip. It has its own character, its own charm, its own island, San Giulia, and a World Heritage Sacre Monte site. During the summer season there is a very convenient and inexpensive bus from Stresa to Orta from the Stresa imbarcadero parking lot.

La Rocca d'Angera: Also called Borromeo Castle, the 14th century fortress in Angera is completely preserved in its original state and has spectacular views of the lake, as well as several museums including the Doll Museum.

The Lido: Yes, the beach! It's summer after all, and the beach in Baveno has sand, chairs, a bar, a restaurant, volleyball games to watch, and cool lake breezes. But it's not the only sand here on which to lay your towel. You can find several nice beaches along the shore, and Stresa's pool, La Baia Rosa.

Markets: Every large town in the area has its own market day; Stresa's market is on Friday. The largest market around here takes place each Sunday morning in Cannobio, the last town before one reaches the Swiss border on the lake. And here's a schedule of other market days in other towns.


There you have it. My checklist of what you should see if you are spending your first few days here. And of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is only a partial list of places... it doesn't include restaurants, or experiences, or activities, or piazzas, or shopping, or wine, or... well, you get the idea. Follow the links for more details. Sometimes they will take you to other links, to other details. Use the search feature on the blog; it can be very helpful. And take a look at some of our other lists for more ideas:

Outdoor Sports And Activities

Five Gardens Of Stresa -- A Planning Guide
Three Day Trips To Switzerland


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PLANNING A TRIP TO STRESA?

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STRESA SIGHTS by DANA KAPLAN

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