Saturday, July 28, 2012

Stresa Promenade: It's Blooming Beautiful!

I was cycling along the promenade to the office last week and it suddenly struck me just how full of colour our lakefront is. During the summer life is usually so hectic that unfortunately there isn't always time to take in all the wonderful gardens along the promenade. But straight away I mentally planned another morning trip, this time on foot, to take some photos to share with you all.

Stresa Lakefront Panorama
The promenade takes you from the ferry station in Stresa along to the ferry and cable car stations at Carciano (also known as Stresa Lido). The walk is on the flat and is approx 1.5km from one end to the other.

Departing from the Lido we'll start our walk from one of my favourite spots along the promenade with wonderful views of Isola Bella and Isola Pescatori from beneath the finger-like branches of the most photogenic tree (update: this is called a Sophora Japonica). We often like to stop here if we happen to be passing, as it is such a beautiful place to spend a quiet five minutes.

Our favourite spot! (The Sophora Japonica)
The Grand Hotel Bristol
Making your way up Via Gilberto Borromeo you reach the main road just opposite the Grand Hotel Bristol which, as we will see, is one of the large lakefront hotels with immaculate gardens and colourful window boxes on every balcony. You'll also come across the first of the monuments along the lakefront gardens: our monument to 9/11. It is a gleaming, satin steel representation of the stars and stripes as the twin towers and was designed by Italo-Albanian artist, Helidon Xhixha.

Stresa 9/11 Monument
Staying on the lakeside you'll pass the one of three lakeview bars, Daniel's Bar, before finding yourself opposite the five star Grand Hotel des Iles Borromées. Their park is simply stunning and you can go in and have a stroll around, even if you aren't staying at the hotel. Their website has an excellent section with information about the plants, trees and sculptures. Select Leisure then Walking Through The Park. I also adore the giant balls of red geraniums that sit atop the gate posts like huge pom poms.

Stresa Promenade
Stresa Promenade and the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromées
Carrying along through the green lawns, roses and hydrangeas you'll find the second of the monuments: the statue of King Umberto I (by Pietro Canonica) towers above a flower bed bursting with new guinea impatiens. King Umberto I used to come to Stresa to court his future wife, Princess Margherita. Behind the statue is a crescent shaped promontory that gives you great views back on the promenade.

King Umberto I 
Passing on to the the next crescent shaped promontory there is a lovely statue of an alpine soldier leading his mule. This is a monument to the Alpine Troops. The mule is the original part of the monument and is by Pietro Canonica. Shortly afterwards is the second war monument with the pedestal made of pink granite from Baveno. The imposing statue is by Ossola artist G. Oreste Pozzi and was inaugurated in 1923. Around the statue is a wonderfully shaded area where you can escape the summer heat and take a seat on one of the many lakeside benches.

The Alpine Troops Monument
Continuing our walk we come across the Hotel La Palma and Hotel Astoria. Both hotels are a riot of colour with pink geraniums trailing over the balcony rails, scarlet new guinea impatiens and blue hydrangea bushes. Palm trees add that Mediterranean feel and the lawns are a lush green and perfectly trimmed.

Hotel Astoria and Hotel La Palma
On the left you will pass our local free beach and the the Lido Blu bar and beach where you can rent sun loungers, beach towels and deck chairs. Opposite is the Regina Palace hotel, a grand building with beautiful gardens and lawns. We were lucky enough to be invited to their centenary celebrations a few years ago and I got to see the full extent of the back gardens too - just splendid!! I also love the big flower bed outside the front entrance and the large front lawns.

The Regina Palace Hotel
And here we reach the final lakefront bar, La Verbanella which also has live jazz evenings throughout the summer. Walking along the side of the children's playground and round behind the bar there is a little wooden bridge which gives you lovely views right back along the lakefront. The path here leads you past the widest part of the promenade with verdant trees and shrubs. You can take a break on one of the benches round the fountain or cross over the road to admire the Villa Ducale. You can have a walk in the gardens in front of the villa where there is a pond full of fish!

Stresa Promenade
Stresa Promenade Fountain and Villa Ducale in the Background
Here, strictly speaking we are at the end of the lakefront gardens, but Stresa town centre is also filled with colour. Local shopkeepers from Via Cavour have organised special flower beds made from traditional wooden fishing boats and the town council and tourist office maintain large flower beds through the town. Other shops, bars and restaurants also do their part and at some restaurants you feel like you're eating in a private garden. Take time to look up as you walk around the town and you'll see balconies lined with window boxes and a riot of colour above your head.

Stresa Centre Flowers
I hope you enjoy your stroll along the lakefront as much as I did (and always do!).The elegant hotels, the colourful displays of flowers, the lawns, the monuments, the views and a spot of people watching - let us know what you liked the most.

The End of Stresa Promenade
Ristorante Mamma Mia Garden 


  1. What a beautiful walk. It is definitely going on our travel list. We hope to visit Sept 2015. Australian couple planning to visit Rome ,The Amalfi Coast The Italian Lakes and take a cruise from Venice to Istanbul.
    We are getting excited already!!!!B & M Williams.
    Your Web site is excellent. It has been so helpful. Thank You

    1. Dear B&M Willams, Thank you for your kind comments. I so pleased you are finding the website and blog helpful. It sounds like you have quite a trip planned!!! If you have questions about your trip at any time, then just drop us an email or a comment here and we'll do our best to help. Best regards from Stresa, Sarah / Viaggi Tomassucci

  2. Thank you for the interesting article on Stresa. I spent a week there in 2015 and wish I had seen your page before visiting as it looks as if I missed many interesting places along the promenade. I took a photograph of the sculpture of King Umberto and wonder if you are able to say the significance of the date of 28 Settembere on the base portion? Kind regards.