Saturday, May 30, 2015

Stresa: What's New for 2015!

The 2015 season has been under way since about Easter but as Stresa starts to get busier in June I thought I'd let you know about some of the things that are new this summer:

Cookery Lesson
This year we are proud to introduce our cookery lesson at a lovely family run restaurant with great views over the lake. Lorenzo and Patrizia will take you through the preparation of a three course meal including pasta making and Patrizia's famous tiramisu which you can then enjoy overlooking the Borromean Bay and beyond. Full details and online booking on our website

View from the restaurant
Michele and Greg making pasta!
Visit the Alpine Gardens by Bus
With the cable car closed this year for renovations, the local council and bus company have set up a bus service to and from Stresa and the Alpine Gardens at Alpino. The journey time is between 25-35 minutes and the bus operates as follows:

The Alpine Gardens
From 25/05/15 - 11/06/15 and 14/09/15 - 30/09/15
Stresa to Alpino
11.00 (Monday to Saturday)
14.00 (Saturday only)
14.45 (Monday to Friday)

Alpino to Stresa
15.22 ((Saturday only)
15.52 (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday only)
17.02 (Tuesdy and Friday only)
18.12 (Monday to Saturday)

From 12/06/15 - 13/09/15
Stresa to Alpino
09.00 (Monday to Saturday)
10.00 (Every day)
12.00 (Monday to Saturday)
14.00 (Every day)

Alpino to Stresa
11.52 (Every day)
12.38 (Monday to Saturday)
14.38 (Monday to Saturday)
15.52 (Every day)
18.52 (Every day)

More to see in the Borromean Palace
It's all about art in the Borromean palace on Isola Bella this year. The picture gallery is now included in the entrance price and is quite interesting to have a walk through. The walls are literally covered with 130 framed paintings. You also pass through the throne room.

In the Great Room you will also find a special exhibition entitled "The Grand Tour and Paintings and Views of the Borromean Islands: from Gaspar Van Wittel to Luigi Ashton". This is a fascinating collection of paintings and drawings of the islands on show for this summer.

The picture gallery
You can now download a Borromean Islands app for iPhone and Android. The app contains free photo galleries of Isola Bella, Isola Madre and the Rocca d'Angera. You can also plan your visit in advance by downloading the audio guide (€2.99 in app purchase).

Designer Isola Bella
After visiting the palace and gardens on Isola Bella you can stroll down Isola Bella's very own designer lane "Vicolo del Fornello" where you'll find such brands as Alessi, Herno, Via Vela 14, Italian Indipendent, Coolturalbag, Di Luca, Capricci, Acqua di Stresa and Bagutta.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lake Maggiore: What's in Flower and When

As Stresa and Lake Maggiore are famous for their gardens, a question we often receive by email is "what will be in flower when we come to visit?". As all gardeners know, flowering times are not an exact science, however I thought I'd write a quick guide as to what you might expect to see in bloom at various time during the season here on Lake Maggiore.

It almost goes without saying that spring and summer will be the best times to see most varieties in flower, but I can assure you that the gardens here are spectacular at any time during the season.

During these months you can expect a magificent display of camellia, not only in the vistibale gardens but also along the lakefront promenade and in gardens of hotels (the Grand Borromées has 180 Camellia!), private residences and villas. There is an exhibition of camellia at the Villa Giulia in Pallanza at the end of March (28-29 March 2015).

March and April are also a good time for magnolia trees which you will find in Villa Taranto and also along the lakefront promenade.

Magnolia tree, Stresa lakefront
April is the time for spring bulbs to flower and at Villa Taranto you can't miss the tulip week (12-25 April 2015) where they have the most amazing display of 20,000 bulbs in 65 varieties.

Tulip Week, Villa Taranto
In April and May another plant that is abundant around the lake, the azalea, will be in flower. There are particularly good displays of azalea in the "Valletta" at Villa Taranto and on Isola Madre.

Some of our other favourites at Villa Taranto in April and May are the cornus florida (flowering dogwood) and the davidia involucrata (handkerchief tree).

Davidia Involucrata (Handkerchief Tree), Villa Taranto
Between these months the rhododendrons will be in flower on the Borromean Islands, at Villa Pallavicino and at Villa Taranto. There are also rhododendrons along our lakefront promenade and at the Grand Borromées.

During late spring and early summer, the  large mophead flowers of hydrangeas appear along Stresa lakefront and in the gardens at the Grand Borromées.

Hydrangea on Stresa promenade
Mid June-Autumn
At Villa Taranto during the summer months and through until autumn you'll find the giant water lilies in flower in the greenhouses. Their enourmous leaves can support up to 10kg!

There are also (smaller) water lilies in the pools on Isola Bella and Isola Madre.

Water Lilies, Isola Madre
Villa Taranto is home to 1700 dahlia plants which bloom from July to the end of October.

In the auumn you can enjoy the golden and red colours of the acer trees at Villa Taranto.

Acers at Villa Taranto
This is just a small selection of the plants and flowers you will see on your visit to Stresa and Lake Maggiore. Balconies drip with geraniums, flower beds at the hotels are packed with impatiens and begonias, roses and wisteria all add colour to our beautiful gardens!

What are your favourite flowers on Lake Maggiore?