This is an excerpt from the book “Turin“
To the tourist, who for the first time arrives in Stresa, a breathless sight is offered. At the beginning a superb window of the lake front, delineated with lines of palm trees, with flourishing gardens and facades of majestic hotels. Then, turning to look at the lake, enchanted, as if emerged from the same waters the spectacular Borromean Islands (Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori).
It is enough the splendor of these visions to make one understand how Stresa has been able to become one of the maximum meetings of international tourism. Stresa, already at the middle half of the 19th century was the most elegant place to stay, the most visited by the international upper middle class.
Where to stay in Stresa
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In this island just across from Stresa, in 1670 Count Vitaliano Borromeo starter construction of the monumental baroque palace, and began to landscape the majestic scenery of the gardens for which the Island, easily reachable by boat from Stresa, became so famous, and which today still bear witness of the splendors of that bygone age. The stately Borromeo residence contains priceless masterpieces: tapestries, furniture, and paintings by great masters. The gardens bloom with every variety of trees and rare flowers which, in their succession of ornate terraces, provide a classic, inimitable example of the celebrated “Italian garden” of that period.
Isola dei Pescatori
Fishermen’s Island, also easily reachable by boat from Stresa, owes its name to the activity of its inhabitants. The fascination of this island lies in the archaic simplicity and the rustic candor of its houses and narrow street. Good restaurants offer the opportunity of tasting the best fish from the lake. Shops.
Is the largest of the Borromeo islands and the most characteristic one, with its atmosphere of the silence, meditation and enchantment: a garden of exotic plants and flowers where white peacocks, parrots and pheasants, flying in total freedom, give the charm of a tropical island. Isola Madre is particularly famous for its flourishing azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias.
It is the furthest from Stresa, but it is still easily reachable by boat. In 1978 the 16th century palace was opened o the public. The visit is interesting for the reconstruction of the antique interior decoration and for the liveries, dolls and ceramics collections. Exceptional exposition of “Puppet Theaters” from the 18th and 19th Centuries.