Tuesday, April 24, 2012

48 Hours in Stresa, Lake Maggiore

A lot of the emails we get are from people that are only going to be in Stresa for a couple of days. So I thought I'd share with you what I'd see and do if I only had 48 hours in Stresa.
Isola Bella, Stresa
Firstly, I'd go to the Borromean Islands. Catching the local ferry is really easy and you find all the details for tickets and prices on our website.
Isola Madre, Stresa
The three islands are all very different, so whilst I love the grandeur of the palace and formal gardens on Isola Bella, my personal favourite is Isola Madre with its elegant Salotto Veneziana and rolling parkland. You might like to split your visit to these two islands with a well-deserved lunch stop on Isola Pescatori. I usually head to Ristorante Belvedere where Paco and his staff are always welcoming - make sure you leave room for a slice of their divine, light and fluffy lemon cake!
Isola Pescatori, Stresa
Before dinner why not join the Italians for a passeggiata and an aperitivo? There's plenty of watering holes in Stresa where you can go for a prosecco, crodino, or spritz. With views of the lake you can try Daniel's Bar, Verbanella (my favourite spot for a Hugo Spritz!), or for the best view in town, the roof top bar at Hotel La Palma
Roof top bar, Hotel La Palma, Stresa
So, after a day's sightseeing you'll no doubt be wondering where to go and eat. I have to admit to beaing a creature of habit when going out to eat and, unless it's a special occasion, then it tends to be a pizza and a beer (you just can't make pizza at home like they do in a pizzeria!). One place we always enjoy in Stresa is Mamma Mia where Melina and Carmela are super friendly. Carmela's husband is the chef and whilst his pasta dishes are lip-smackingly tasty, I've recently discovered they do a very good pizza too. If you can't a table at Mamma Mia then you can also grab a great pizza at Pappagallo or Osteria degli Amici (who also serve a delectable mushroom risotto). All three places have al fresco dining. Update May 2013: this year we have discovered two new restaurants: Due Piccioni in Piazza Possi and GranoDuro (also a great pizzeria) near the train station. Update February 2015: for something special and a cosy atmosphere you have to try Il Vicoletto!

If you want to try some local wine then you can't do better than a visit to Al Buscion wine bar. Massimo is a mine of information and is happy to help you decipher the wine list and introduce you to Piemonte wines.

Whilst the Borromean Islands are a must see for one day, I've got a few ideas for how to fill the rest of your time in Stresa.

The Centovalley Railway
The Lake Maggiore Express is excellent value for money and you'll find yourself glued to the window of the Centovalley Railway because the scenery is ever-changing; every time I go I always spot something new. If you are a real garden enthusiast then you could catch a ferry to Villa Taranto or have a ride on the cable car to visit the Alpine Gardens. Whilst you're there, why not go right to the top of Mottarone and have a go on the Alpyland Alpine Coaster?

Hopefully after your 48 hours in Stresa you'll be left wanting more and will come back to visit us again!

Have you visited Stresa? Let us know your top tips for what to see and do.

Sarah, Viaggi Tomassucci (updated Feb 2015)

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