Stresa is a picturesque town on Lake Maggiore, in a nice setting. It looks right out at the lake's Borromean Islands and is one of the area's more important tourist towns because it is on the rail and ferry lines. There are abundant flora to enjoy, from olive groves to lemon trees and bay hedges, along with camelia, azelia and magnolia blooms.
The town dates back to Roman times but was first mentioned in the historic annals in the 900s. It prospered in the 1800s with two noble families in town, the Borromeo and the Visconti. When steam ferries and rail lines increased in this zone, tourism traffic to Stresa and Lake Maggiore increased as well. A couple of grand hotel were built. When the Duchess of Genova bought the Ducal Palace, other famous travelers followed, like Rockefeller, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw and Hemingway. Stresa became known as a spa center.
There are pretty streets lined up along the lake with nice shops and boutiques as well as cool cafes and restaurants. The water front promenade offers excellent views of the surrounding the mountains and the islands in the lake.
There is a cable car that travels up to the top of Mount Mottarone, whisking passengers from 1,481 meters above sea level to 4,892 meters in twenty minutes. There you'll find crisp mountain air, flora and fauna and hiking trails. In the hills is the Orta Sacro Monte, part of the UNESCO site known as the Sacri Monti, that is a devotional complex immersed amidst the natural landscape. There is a series of chapels depicting the life of St. Francis. Villa Taranto Botanic Gardens is an English style manicured landscape that has exotic plants, a water lily pond, and thousands of tulips, along with terraces and waterfalls. Villa Pallavicino Zoological Park is an interesting oddity that is part of the villa and gardens that are still owned by the Pallavicino family. Dating to the late 1800s, the distinctive feature is an archway fashioned from live cypress trees, but the zebras, llamas, parrots, toucan and deer set it apart as unique, too. Alpyland is a billed as a "coaster bob" - a thrill ride that is open year round, with a roller coaster like ride in the summer and a bobsled run in the winter.
Stresa is a nice point for a day trip or a point of departure for seeing other lake destinations.
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Explore nearby towns
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