Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stresa Travel Notes: Rainy Day Activities

It's not exactly headline news, but the sun doesn't always shine on Lake Maggiore. Our wonderful gardens and lush scenery get a liberal dousing of rain in the spring and autumn and this year it feels like it has been more liberal that usual! A couple of weeks ago the lake was at bursting point and heavy rain is expected again over the next few days. So, I've put my thinking hat on and tried to come up with some ideas to keep you entertained when the weather turns bad.

I have to admit, it wasn't easy coming up with ideas. A lot of our main attractions are gardens which are obviously best seen and experienced in dry weather. However, with the right frame of mind and a bit of intrepid spirit, you can still enjoy Stresa and its surroundings in the rain.

1. Visit Milan by Train
Milan is close, easy to reach by train and has lots of things to do in case of wet weather. You can view and download our "Milan by Train" fact sheet at the end of this post and here are some of the things you could see and do:
  • Visit the Duomo. It's free to enter but if you want to take photographs you need to pay €2 (during Expo 2015 from 1st May to 31st October everyone pays €2 to enter and you can take photos - no flash)
  • Hit the shops. Milan is famous for the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, the enormous Rinascente department store, big names from the high-street near the Duomo and designer stores on Via Montenapoleone
  • Be a culture vulture and visit a gallery. Try the Pinacoteca di Brera or there is always something interesting to see at the Triennale Design Museum. Photography fans can catch the latest exhibition at Forma.
2. The Lake Maggiore Express
It might not be an obvious choice in the rain, but you are on trains or the ferry for most of the day so at least you are in the dry. Enjoy a lazy lunch in Locarno or Ascona and then head back to Stresa on the ferry.

3. Have a Foodie Day
Italy is famous for its food and wine so take a rainy day out from sightseeing and indulge!
  • Visit Massimo and Barbara at Il Buscion wine bar, try some local wines and order a platter of cheese, hams and salami. 
  • Hop on the ferry and enjoy a special lunch on Isola Pescatori at Belvedere or Verbano
  • Have a carpet picnic. Sniff out some foodie treats in town and enjoy an indoor picnic in your room. You'll find some lovely delis and shops with yummy treats in the centre of Stresa and the Carrefour supermarket is handy for drinks, paper napkins and cups. **it goes without saying that your hotel won't be too pleased if you make a mess ;)**
4. Pamper Yourself
The Grand Hotel des Iles Borromées has a beautiful spa centre where you can choose from a full range of facials, massages, body treatments and therapies. 

5. Hit the Shops
Use a rainy day to root out some souvenirs and send some postcards (a nearly forgotten practice, but I still love receiving them). As well as Stresa's choice of boutiques, Arona (train) and Intra (ferry) have a large choice of shops. If you have a car there is a shopping centre in Gravellona Toce.

6. Join an Excursion
We have guided excursions on offer most days. You can dry off on the coach, our guide Barbara will keep you entertained and you'll see some great new places.

7. Grab an Umbrella and Carry On
If you've only got a couple of days in Stresa, I'm sure you can do most of what you had planned to do. Don't miss out on the Borromean Islands because it is raining. You can still enjoy the palace on Isola Bella and a stroll on Isola Pescatori. 

Did you experience rainy days during your visit to Stresa and Lake Maggiore? Share your ideas for what to see and do in wet weather.

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