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Sunday, November 23, 2014

News: Stresa Wins Floral Awards Again!


Representatives from Stresa accept the 2014 Four Golden Flowers Plaque at the Comune Fioriti 2014 awards ceremony in Bologna. 


After the recent news of Stresa being chosen as one of 20 real-life fairy tale locations in Italy, comes news of another award for Stresa. Once again, Stresa has triumphed in the national contest sponsored by Asproflor (the Association of Flower Growers). This year saw the participation of 140 municipalities, representing all 20 Italian regions. The awards ceremony was held in Bologna at the EIMA fair.

How did Stresa do? Great! Following a tradition of many years of winning different awards in this competition, this year Stresa came away with a Silver Plaque overall. In addition, Stresa took the first prize for communities with more than 5,000 inhabitants. 

And most impressively, Stresa this year won the coveted quattro fiori d'oro, Four Golden Flowers Plaque, which each year is awarded to only one municipality in all of Italy.  

Representatives of Stresa who accepted the award proudly said in acceptance, "These awards given to the city are a result not only of the Administration, but of all citizens and operators, who invest energy and resources to beautify our territory." And the awards are an incentive, they said, to do more, "for those who live in Stresa and its visitors."

Cascading yellow flowers on a private residence.
(   Continued ...   )

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stresa Train Station: Info And 5 Common Questions

Stresa station, taxis waiting.


This post was originally written in 2009 and has endured well, but it's time to update it and make everything current. In addition, over the years there are certain questions that have been asked repeatedly about train service. Although some of these questions have been answered elsewhere on the blog let's consolidate the information and the 5 Top Questions About Trains here, with the hopes of making it as easy and enjoyable as possible for you to make use of the Italian trains.


1. How do I get to and from Malpensa Airport by train?
The most frequently asked question. On this post it is described that you can get to Stresa from Malpensa in various ways. One of those ways is by way of switching trains at the station in Busto Arsizio. However, now that there is the new shuttle train, Milano Express, from Malpensa this is another simple way (not the fastest however) to arrive in Stresa by train. Take the Express train directly from Malpensa to Milano Centrale (MI C.LE) and then take a train from Centrale to Stresa. Check all time schedules carefully in advance to be sure trains are traveling at the times you need. If possible, buy your ticket (at least from Milano to Stresa) in advance of your trip, for peace of mind. You can always change it if needed due to a flight delay.

Even if you need to wait a short time in Milano Centrale and your trip takes a little longer overall this is an easy and relatively stress-free way to arrive in Stresa. The trouble with going to Busto Arsizio from Malpensa is the confusion regarding where to change trains, (at Busto Arsizio, not at Busto Arsizio Nord), which leads to more stress and potentially being at the wrong station in a small town with limited options. But it will get you to Stresa faster than going through to Milano.

Remember, during the summer season there is the Alibus shuttle which goes from Malpensa to Stresa. Train service is if you are traveling outside of the Alibus season, or have other reasons to take the train.

2. Do I need to buy train tickets in advance? 
This is the second most frequently asked question. The answer is usually no, in theory, you do not. But for peace of mind, as well as planning your trip, if you are planning journeys to other cities, or taking the high-speed Frecce trains, for example, you may want to buy your ticket before the trip. Think of it as you would for booking a flight, since you will be choosing seats as well as the day and time. Tickets can be bought online through the Trenitalia site for most trips. Tickets can only be purchased a certain number of days before the travel date. If you do not succeed in purchasing your tickets online, but still want to get them in advance of your trip, you can purchase all your tickets, regardless of which train line they are, at the ticket window at the Stresa (or any) station. For example, if you are traveling to Venice, you will be given a ticket to Milano, and then a second ticket from Milano to Venice. If you are making a round trip you can also buy your return tickets, and will be given those tickets as well. I have bought tickets on the same day of my trips; however, if I am traveling at rush hour or a day I expect to be busy, or taking a Frecce, I usually buy them in advance.

2a. Do I want an EC, an IC, or a R train?
For a nicer ride, if possible, take an EC (Eurocity) or an IC (Intercity) train to and from Milano. These are the newer express trains. The trip will be almost half the time of the R trains, which are regional trains that make many stops at local stations. Take the R trains if you need to get to one of the stations not serviced on the others, or if it is a time that works better for you. On EC and IC trains you will be given a seat number; R regional train tickets do not assign you a seat.

Helpful hint: If trying to purchase a ticket online and having difficulty booking a trip that requires a change of trains, try to put each leg of the trip into the system separately and see if that works.

3. Do I need to validate my train tickets at the station?
When you don't: If your ticket has a date, carozza, and seat number on it you do not need to validate it. Just show it to the ticket collector when asked on the train. In fact, if you bought it online you can show them your ticket confirmation on a smartphone or other device, which they will then scan.  I often travel this way now.
When you do: You do need to validate your ticket only if your ticket has no date on it, i.e., if you bought a regional ticket at a station without an exact day and time printed on it. (If you bought your R ticket online it is prevalidated; show it to the ticket collector along with an ID.)

3a. How do I find my assigned seat on the Italian trains?
As stated above, in the EC and IC, as well as Trenitalia and Frecce trains you have an assigned seat. Regional trains, no. Look for the following information on your ticket:
The Train number: Often a two-digit or four-digit number; to confirm you are on the correct train. Ex.: EC34
The Binario number: Binario is the track your train is on. More important in large stations with many tracks.
The Carozza number: The Carozza is the carriage in the train you will be in. It is shown outside the train near the doors, as well as inside if you are walking through the cars to reach your seat.
The Posto number. This is your seat number. It is posted on the walls of the train or on the side of seats, much like an airplane.

Note that people do obey their assigned seats. Don't try to sit elsewhere unless you ask permission to exchange with someone, or if the train is quite empty.

On R trains you may sit anywhere; no assigned seats. On R trains, there is sometimes no air conditioning in summer, another consideration.

3b. Why can't I get to _______ directly from Stresa by train?
Because you can't. You cannot get to everywhere from everywhere via a direct train, just as with airplanes. That said, it is so easy to get to so many places from Stresa by switching in Milano Centrale. Think of Milano as the center of a wheel with many spokes on it. Spokes that go to wonderful places, such as Firenze, Venezia, Lake Como, Roma, the Adriatic Sea, etc., etc. And Stresa is one of those spokes as well. Yes, it would be a perfect world if we could get onto a train, sit, and arrive at our destination. But it's an almost perfect world by being able to get to all these wonderful places from Stresa by making a change of trains at Milano Centrale.

3c. Do I want Milano Centrale (MI C.LE) or Milano Porto Garibaldi (MI P.GA)? 
Generally speaking, unless you need to get near the Garibaldi station, Centrale is the center of the wheel and has the majority of the trains. Also know that the stations are about one mile from each other in Milano, and so, if truly necessary, a taxi could bring you from one station to the other. Note that Milano Centrale is written MI C.LE on tickets, monitors and elsewhere. Milano Porto Garibaldi is written as MI P.GA.

4. Can I get tickets for the Lago Maggiore Express at the train station? What about the other tickets for the trip?
Yes, you can get tickets for this train/boat combination trip at any of the train stations, boat stations included on the trip, or at many tourist offices in town. Any of these places will ticket you for the entire journey and explain the trip and schedule to you. The Stresa Tourist Office at the main boat dock will also be very helpful in explaining how this enormously popular excursion works. I do recommend getting your information and tickets a day or two in advance, only if to understand what to expect and bring.

5. What does the information on the signs tell me? 
The screens in the Stresa train station and outside at the track list arrivals and departures (partenze). If a train is arriving later than expected it will be listed as "in ritardo", and the number of minutes late it will be. If it is listed as "soppresso", that is the bad news that the train has been cancelled. If you have a ticket for a train and this happens return to the ticket booth where they will exchange it for another train.

Extra Question:  And where is the train station? I can't find it on my map. 
Put this address into your map search online to find the train station. The station is about a 20-minute walk from the lakefront, the boat dock, and the main piazza. Note that the walk is downhill from the station, therefore, uphill back to it.

Ferrovie Dello Stato

1 Via Carducci, Stresa, VB 28838
Italy

**********

Below follows the original text of the post from 2009, which offers more descriptive information of the Stresa train station. Some helpful links to other posts follow it at the bottom of this page.


Although not a large city, I think it is indicative of Stresa's status, both as a tourist destination and as a bedroom community of Milan, that it has a very well-equipped train station. Located on via Carducci , it's a short walk from the lakefront (about 15 minutes) and the majority of the hotels, and if you don't feel like walking, there are usually taxis waiting for you. Outside, the structure has a bit of a Swiss feel; trains do come and go here from Switzerland after all, less than an hour away to the north.

The main room inside, where there are the ticket windows, is older, marble countered, wood trimmed, and spotless. There are large framed photographs on the walls, sepia toned, historical photos from long ago.

But everything else in the station seems a sharp contrast to the antique nature of this room. The cappuccino bar is large and the cappuccino is good. They offer free seating both inside and out. A TV is mounted high on one wall, usually is showing the news. There is also a full-service restaurant, called The Orient Express, with a curved glass wall serving as a divider in the center of the room. I've noticed at lunchtime this restaurant gets very crowded. And you can store your luggage temporarily here (see link at the bottom of this post); big-city service in a small town.

Un cappuccino per favore, prima di partire... A cappuccino please, before leaving.
(   Continued ...)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Isola Bella: A Real-Life Fairy Tale Place


Easing back into normal routines after a lovely break of a few weeks. And what better way to return to reality than with a reminder that, although very real, living in Stresa is sometimes much like living in a fairy tale. Here, in online publication Swide, Stresa's Isola Bella is chosen as one of "20 Real-Life Fairy Tale Places in Italy."

As Swide says:


Swide chose these two photos to illustrate the choice of Isola Bella: Above, Isola Bella from the lake, and below, one of the white peacocks strolling in the garden on Isola Bella.
(   Continued ...   )

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vacation Time For Us!



Dear Readers,

Stresa Sights is on vacation for the next couple of weeks.

Please use the resources on the blog to plan your vacation in Stresa.

We'll be back soon with more posts and information!

Monday, October 13, 2014

History: Three Historic Statues Along The Lungolago


I took advantage of a dramatic sky one morning, using it as a backdrop for photos of these three bronze statues found close to each other in the center of the Lungolago. I call these three the historic statues,  both because they are among the oldest of the statues along the lake, and because, in contrast to the ones I call the artistic statues, each of these commemorates a significant event or time in Stresa's past.

Let's begin with the above statue, which is the one closest to the Carciano side of the Lungolago, approximately in front of the Hotel des Iles Borromees.

(   Continued  ...   )

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

History: Lido Carciano - How It Once Was



I am absolutely fascinated by this set of postcards depicting the Lido at Carciano. The images, including some renderings, are from the beginning to Pre-WWII 1900s. They show a Lido you may not have known had existed; a wonderland of a beach, with so many attractions and a dream of a restaurant, suspended high above the lake on stilts. Take a look at what you would have seen and done if you had visited around 1920. All the pictures have been copied from the blog Archivio Iconografico del Verbano Cusio Ossola, with the captions as they were presented, auto-translated into English. There is Isola Bella, unchanged, and perhaps you can spot other familiar landmarks in the area, such as the granite quarry on the Baveno mountain, to place where you are. 
(   Continued ...   )

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reader's Mail: When Is Mass At The Church In Stresa?


A few readers have asked about mass times at the main church in Stresa, SS Ambrogio and Theodulo. This is the large church across from the boat station parking lot, across from the bus stop, where on one corner the Alibus pick-up stop also is located. In other words, it is the church used often as a landmark.

But for those of you who wish to use it for more than a landmark, take a look on the main doors when walking past. The mass times are posted on the door.


Translation:

Sundays and Holidays: 
8:30
11:00
6:00 pm (18:00)

Weekdays: (Monday through Friday)
6:00 pm (18:00)

Saturdays:
6:00 pm  (18:00)

Recitation of the Rosary:
5:30 pm (17:30)

Mass at the church in the village of Passera: Every Sunday at 9:30

Mass at the church at Collegio Rosmini (SS Crocefisso):
Weekdays at 6:30 (18:30)

The hours for confession are also posted on the door:



Translation:

Hours for the confessions:
The priest is present for confessions with the following availability:
Each weekday, 1/2 hour before mass, from 5:30 to 6:00 pm (17:30 to 18:00)
Saturdays from 5:00 to 5:45 pm (17:00 to 17:45)
Sundays from 10:00 to 11:00 
(   Continued   ...   )

Saturday, September 13, 2014

News: Stresa Remembers 9/11


Two days ago I had the honor of attending the memorial ceremony at the 9/11 monument in Stresa. Here are some photos I took during the solemn, deeply moving service. 

(   Continued ...   )

Monday, September 8, 2014

News: National Geographic Recommends Stresa For Fall Travel



This was just brought to my attention. Here's Stresa, featured in National Geographic Travel, as one of their Best Fall Trips 2014. They write about visiting in September and October, when crowds start to diminish, and they highlight visiting the Borromeo Islands.


Good, basic information; Stresa is blissfully out of the spotlight compared to Lake Como, they say, and I agree that is true. So we keep it our little secret, yes? At least a little while longer. Read what they had to say:   
(   Continued   ... )

Friday, September 5, 2014

Shopping: Thursday Craft Market



Sharing some photos I took last evening as we strolled along the Lungolago after dinner, checking out the crafts, foods, and wares for sale in the market stalls. This Thursday craft market has been running all summer; I'm not certain how far into the autumn it will continue. 


The market runs along the lake, from the boat station down to just past the ristorante Lido Blu across from the Regina Palace Hotel. It starts in the afternoon, and runs until late evening. During dinnertime, when we were here, it was calm.
(   Continued ...   )

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