Sunday, July 14, 2013

Stresa Travel Notes: The Alpine Gardens - An Unsung Hero!

***Update April 2015: Unfortunately the cable car has been closed since October 2014 as it must undergo an extensive refit required by Italian law. A potential reopening date is yet to be established***

I read a pretty bad review of the Alpine Gardens online recently and they come 9 out of 10 on the Tripadvisor list of things to do in Stresa. I guess it all depends on what people are expecting, but I have decided to dedicate a blog post to the gardens and hopefully persuade you that they are worth a visit.

The gardens are a very easy 450m walk from the Alpino cable car station and entrance is just €3.

Map of the Alpine Gardens
When you enter the gardens there are large beds and rockeries beautifully laid out with various plants and flowers and a pretty little cottage. 

Large flower beds and rockeries
We headed straight for the path that winds its way up above the entrance and cottage to the belvedere viewpoint. There are several benches along the edge of the viewpoint where you can enjoy the peace and quiet and the vast panoramas over Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands. I could sit here for hours!

The Belvedere Path

The Belvedere Viewpoint
Following the path round through the trees and lawns you enter the marshy area where you cross the wooden bridge over the pond to join the woodland path. On previous visits we have seen dragonflies darting around the pond in the marshy area. 

The Marshy Area
The woodland path takes you down below the belvedere and through the cool, shady trees before climbing back up towards the cottage. Just before you reach the cottage you'll find a collection of rhododendrons and it is here we spotted two familiar faces making their way up to the viewpoint: our guide, Barbara, and her twin sister Sylvia! After waves and hellos they continued their hunt for a flower they had seen on the Simplon Pass.

The Woodland Path
We returned to the start of our route around the gardens and took some time to walk among the flower beds and look closer at some of the plants and flowers:

Feeling very relaxed after a peaceful walk around the gardens we strolled along to the cable car station where there is a little bar. For us, a drink and an ice-lolly, but they also serve sandwiches, salads and plates of cold cuts and cheeses.

The Alpine Gardens maybe be simple, but they are beautiful, tranquil and offer a wonderful, fresh respite on a hot summer day as well as a fantastic view! So, for the cost of an ice-cream, you can pass a very pleasant 45-60 minutes on your way up to Mottarone.

You cannot take picnics into the gardens but there are plenty of grassy spots to eat your sandwiches near the cable car station and at the top of Mottarone. 

Have you been to the Alpine Gardens? What did you think?

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