Friday, June 15, 2012

Stresa: Streets with a Story to tell

I love learning about Stresa's local history and recently I started to wonder about all the different street names and who they're named after. So I got the tourist office map and with the help of Luca and a few local history sources I investigated the streets and squares that I walk and cycle through everyday.

Let's start in Stresa's main pedestrian square, Piazza Cadorna. Luigi Cadorna wasan Italian politician and General.and was born in the nearby town of Pallanza. He devised the Cadorna Line, a defensive "line" which was built to protect the area around Milan and Bergamo from a hypothetical attack from Germany through neutral Switzerland, or from a possible invasion by Switzerland. It took 5 years to build between 1911 and 1916 and parts of it can still be seen today, particularly above Verbania. In Piazza Cadorna you can enjoy a drink or a meal at one of the many cafés and bars.

Piazza Cadorna
Exiting Piazza Cadorna near the bread shop you will arrive at Piazza Possi, a smaller square which has recently been renovated and where you can now enjoy a seat in the sun. This square is named after a local doctor, Felice Possi, who was much loved in the town and who died in 1964 (the square was named in 1984). The yellow building that backs on to one side of the square is part of the council offices and is where we go to get, among other things, our ID cards. The town police are also based there.

Piazza Possi
Taking the narrow street up the side of Osteria degli Amici you will enter Via A.M. Bolongaro. The Bolongaro family made their money from manufacturing, especially in Holland and Germany, and became very wealthy. Over the years they gave a lot back Stresa, including schools, houses, a pharmacy, lodgings for a town doctor and they contributed to building the church.

Via A.M. Bolongaro
Anna Maria (A.M.) Bolongaro dedicated her life to helping people in Stresa. After her husband's death in 1780 she forged ahead with plans to assist the town. She founded a school for the poorest girls in the town and even paid the teacher's wages. She contributed to, and laid the first stone of the Parish Church in 1786. When she died in 1801 she left behind a daughter and a grand-daughter, both also called Anna Maria. They carried on the charitable work of their mother and grand-mother, founding a pharmacy in their own villa to dispense medicine to the needy and a rest home for the elderly and infirm. When the grand-daughter died in 1848 she left the Villa Bolongaro to the Rosminian Brothers and it is now their study centre and is known as Villa Ducale.

At the end of Via A.M. Bolongaro you turn left into Via G.F. Bolongaro (you can imagine what fun the postman has!!) which is named Anna Maria's husband, Giacomo Filipo Bolongaro. In 1723 he followed his uncle to Frankfurt in Germany to help him with his flourishing tobacco business. He returned to Stresa a very wealthy man and built Villa Bolongaro (now Villa Ducale) in 1771.

After a few meters you can turn left into Piazza Capucci. This is a car park everyday of the week except Friday when the weekly market takes over which is worth a visit. The square is named after Second Lieutenant Edmondo Capucci, declared missing at war in Russia in 1942. His sister donated the current premises to the local Alpine Troops Association in memory of her brother and at the opening ceremony it was also announced that there would be a square named after him. You can donate to the Alpine Troops Association by eating at one of their festivals - we have already had their fish festival and Luca and I are looking forward to their second festival later this summer where there is good food, good company and good music!

Piazza Capucci
Exit Piazza Capucci along Via L Bolongaro ..... yes another road named after the Bolongaro family! This time, Luigi Bolongaro who was an artist and some of his works can be seen at the Museo del Paesaggio in Pallanza. On you way down Via L. Bolongaro you will cross Via de Vit named after historian, Vincenzo de Vit who published a book about Stresa in 1854.

Piazza Marconi
At the end of Via L. Bolongaro turn left and head towards the ferry station. You will now find yourself in the square that all visitors to Stresa will see as it is where you will park your car, catch a ferry or visit the tourist office: Piazza Marconi. This is named after Guglielmo Marconi who invented the radio, Marconi's Law and a radio telegraph system. It is also world famous for being the home of Viaggi Tomassucci ;)

Via Principessa Margherita
Head back into the centre up Via Principe Tomaso which is just to the right of our office. Prince Tomaso is the brother of Margherita, Queen consort of Italy from 1878-1890 during her husband, King Umberto I's reign. Turn right when you you reach Piazza Possi and then take the second right into Via Principessa Marghertia named after the aforementioned Queen consort who used to spend her summers in Stresa at the Villa Ducale. The yummy Margheritine di Stresa are named in her honour!

When you reach the Church and the lakefront turn left and then take the next left up Via P Canonica (next to the Hotel Regina Palace). Pietro Canonica was a sculptor whose works can be seen along the lakefront (the statue of King Umberto I) and in the Sala Canonica at the town hall.

When you reach the crossroads by the Congress Palace turn right and go straight down Via De Martini until you reach the wide road that takes you back down to the lakefront. This is Via Duchessa di Genova. Elizabeth of Saxony, the Duchess of Genoa was the mother of Principessa Margherita!

Via P. Canonica
As you walk down Via Duchessa di Genova look left as you pass the Carabinieri station. The road with the little church (now converted into holiday lets) is Via Fratelli Omarini. This narrow street is named after the four brothers who, in 1861 purchsed the first plots of land where they would then build the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromées

Further down on the left you will pass the entrance to Viale Mainardi (Ex Viale Regina) which was named in memory of Albano Mainardi. He was the headmaster at the prestigious Stresa Hoteliery School

Once you reach the lakefront you will be on the main lake road, or Corso Umberto I (named after Italy's King).

I hope you've enjoyed our look at the people behind the names of Stresa's streets and squares. Let us know if you would like to hear more about Stresa's history!

Sources I used for this post are: Le Tre Marie Bolongaro, Stresa: Borgo Millenario, Museo del Paesaggio, Alpine Troops Association and Scenari.

Sarah, Viaggi Tomassucci

No comments:

Post a Comment