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Malpensa / Stresa Bus

Malpensa / Stresa Bus
Available From 1 April to 15 Oct 2017 - Click to Book -
Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Il Carlone" Statue Of San Carlo Borromeo

Have you visited "il Carlone" (Big Carlo) yet? It's fascinating. Interesting facts about this hollow bronze statue: It was built to commemorate San Carlo Borromeo, who was born in 1538 in the Borromeo fortress that at that time stood where now the ruins of la Rocca are. His parents, Lord Giberto II and Lady Margherita Medici of Marignano, ruled over much of the lake. Choosing a religious life, San Carlo was appointed Archbishop of Milan on 12 May 1564, and, some years after his death in 1584, Pope Paul V canonized Carlo on 1 November 1610. This statue built in his honor was completed in 1698, a collaboration between the designer Giovan Battista Crespi, better known as “Il Cerano” and the sculptors Siro Zanella and Bernardo Falconi.

It is truly a masterpiece of engineering. Until the building of the Statue of Liberty this was the tallest hollow bronze statue in the world, and is still number 2. In fact, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty, came to Arona to study the statue’s structure. A plaque can be found at the foot of the Statue of Liberty commemorating the inspiration given by the ‘Sancarlone’, now no longer the largest statue in the world.
The statue is 90 feet (35 meters) tall. You can climb to the top, with a fascinating view of the internal structure, and, at the top, gaze through various windows. The climb consists of a spiral staircase, and then a long ladder to the top.

Ready for it? Intrigued? Get all the information on the website. San Carlo is just outside Arona, easily reachable by car.You can also visit the gardens, the church, and the small Sacre Monte. Directions, ticket information, and much more can be found here:

all photos courtesy of the main website

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Information About The Alibus Shuttle From Malpensa To Stresa

Your shuttle bus will look like this or similar, with, most likely, this S.A.F. logo on it, not Alibus.

For those of you making your spring or summer plans to come to Stresa, here is the information on the Alibus shuttle between Malpensa Airport and Stresa:

Things You Need To Know About Alibus:

What Is The Alibus Operating Schedule?
For 2017 Alibus will begin service to Stresa and Lago Maggiore on April 1, and will run until October 15. It runs seven days a week. The earliest bus each day leaves Malpensa around 8:30 am and the last bus each day leaves Malpensa around 9:00 pm. The trip to Stresa takes one hour. For the returns to Malpensa, the earliest bus leaves Stresa each day around 6:30 am and the last bus leaves Stresa each day around 7:30 pm, arriving at Malpensa one hour later.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Painted Village Of Legro, Near Orta

When you're driving to Orta, before parking the car in the large parking lots near the historic city center, or once you leave, take a very quick detour and go to see the interesting little village of Legro, just a couple of minutes outside of the town of Orta.

Since 1998 Legro has been a part of a rather special group of 127 Italian towns, the L'Associazione Italiana Paesi Dipinti, the Association of Italian Towns. Many walls of the tiny village are painted with colorful frescoes. The subjects of the murals painted on the walls of the village were mostly inspired by the work of the local poet and writer Gianni Rodari, and by films made in the Lake Orta area. I've posted a few photos I took on a recent drive through the town; I'll leave you to discover the rest on your own!

Legro is a frazione of Orta (a small town, part of the larger town), and is where the Orta-Miasino train station is. The map with the arrow shows the location. There's some parking around the station, and a fun birreria as well, if you want to walk around. If you only have a few minutes, a drive slowly around the narrow, pretty streets of the village will take you past many of the paintings.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ristorante Luci Sul Lago: A Hidden Spot Near Orta

Shhh... Let's call this one of those "secret" places, slightly off the beaten tourist track. For those of you visiting Lake Orta by car, after you visit the town, take the boat out to Isola San Giulio, walk through the Sacro Monte, after all that, if you would like a tranquil spot to reflect on your day in Orta, look for Luci sul Lago, located in a quiet little bay just outside the town of Orta, on the road to and from Stresa. 

They offer everything from a simple aperitivo, to light meals and pizzas, to formal meals. We stopped there for a Sunday morning aperitivo and decided to stay for lunch. You can even cater weddings and events here, and when you see the location you'll see why. There's a beach club on one side, offering rental paddle boats, and a grass park area on the other, where you can picnic. And there is parking, if you get there at a lucky time. Otherwise, park along the road, as you will see everyone else doing. 

Take a look at the gorgeous photos on their website; you'll want to make this your "secret" place in Orta too. 

Website with all information:

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Laveno "Bucket" Lift

Wow! Look at these views! These photos are from the website of the Funivia del Lago Maggiore, as it's called in Italian, but we all call it the Laveno "Bucket Lift." We call it this because the journey up the mountain is not in a gondola, or a chairlift, but truly in a large bucket that you stand in.

Having taken the ride, I can tell you that it is not as scary as it sounds. Here are some facts: The ride takes 16 minutes, and brings you to the top of Sasso del Ferro, an altitude of 1,100 meters. It's silent, and if you're truly nervous, there are also closed "buckets" you can choose to ride in. At the top, there is a restaurant and a bar, along with a park area, and a launching pad where you can watch the hang gliders, which I found fascinating.

The best way to get there from Stresa is to take the traghetto from Verbania Intra; the traghetto is the car ferry that crosses Lago Maggiore every 20 minutes. Just walk right on... Great views crossing the lake, and the ferry drops you in the town of Laveno Mombello, a charming town to walk around in before or after the trip up the mountain.

Here's the website, for all the information:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Stresa Festival 2017

The 2017 Edition of the Stresa Festival, the 56th annual edition, will commence on July 18, 2017 and end on September 8, 2017. You can find all the pertinent information, and buy tickets, on their website:  Check the Box Office and Programme 2017 pages for the most relevant information.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

2017 Dates: Borromee Islands, Other Attractions, Open

The Borromeo islands, Villa Taranto, Rocca Angera and Parco Pallavicino are all getting ready to open again. The winter hibernation is over, and the 2017 season is beginning! And as you can see from the following photographs, everything else in Stresa is opening too:

(   Continued  ...   )

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fishing Lake Near Stresa -- Lago Betulle

A short distance from Stresa, just 200 meters away from the shores of Lago Maggiore, hidden, but just off the main road, is a quiet, tranquil little lake, a perfect spot for a day of fishing: Fishing Center Lago Betulle. 

This man-made lake offers approximately 1,000 meters of safe banks, 40,000 square meters of water with a maximum depth of 15 meters, and the chance to catch rainbow trout, brown trout, salmon, sturgeon, carp, hamour, channel catfish, and more. And not just tiny fish; the record as of this writing is a 16.2 kilo carp!

Spend all day, as there is a restaurant and playground on the premises. There are also specials on certain days, and fishing championships on others. Take a look at the website or contact them if you have specific questions or for prices and information.

There is parking on-site. Lake Betulle can also be reached with public transportation by taking the bus to the Feriolo stop and walking a short distance to the lake. 

Lago Betulle
via Arnold Feriolo di Baveno
Phone: +30 0323 28402

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Thousand Years... And Counting...

Have you noticed these signs on all roads as you enter into Stresa? 998 to 1998; one thousand years! (Actually 2018 will make it 1,020; we're working on that second millennium now.) And not only 1,000 years of history, but 1,000 years of hospitality.

Not too much remains of the early history of Stresa. The name first appeared in a document in the year 998. Tourism started to take off in the early 1900s, and since then Stresa has been visited by royalty, aristocrats, politicians, artists, celebrities, and millions of people like you and I.

Here are some bits of historic information:
  • Stresa's ancient name was Strixia, a latin term meaning "a narrow strip of land." At that time the fishing village was reachable on land by an old Roman road. Perhaps the name referred to the narrow strip of flat land that was the village, nestled between mountains and lake. In local dialect, Stresa is pronounced "Strecia," which means a narrow strip or passage.

  • In the 1400s Stresa was a divided city. Where now there is the road via Roma there once was a narrow river, the Cree. On one side of the Cree Stresa was owned by the Visconti family, while on the other side all was owned by the Borromeo family, who were soon to transform the three islands in the lake and take full ownership of Stresa.

  • The creation of the Simplon Pass through the Alps in the early 1800s, then the Simplon train tunnel, opened in 1906, opened up Stresa to travel from northern Europe, starting a tourism "boom."

  • In spite of the increases in visitors, Stresa's first boat dock wasn't built until 1860. Before that, boat passengers were ferried out to the boats in rowboats.

  • In 1935, the "Stresa Front" meetings between the U.K., Italy, and France were held in Stresa, in a futile attempt to combat and contain Nazi Germany.
The round sign below does not mean no trumpets, sadly; it does mean no honking of car horns. And the Comune Fiorito yellow sign below is in reference to Stresa's several wins as a "Floral City of Italy."

Stresa may be a tiny town, but it has fit a lot of history into those 1,000 years. Come and visit, and make some history here yourself!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Vintage Images Make Beautiful Greeting Cards

I saw this blank card at Libreria Leone, the wonderful card, book, stationery, gift, and so much more shop, located on the corner of Piazza Cadorna and via Roma, in Stresa. When open, the front and back of the card creates a complete image of an old print of Stresa (unfortunately undated and uncredited. I bought a few to send, to keep, to frame perhaps. The islands are practically unchanged; perhaps the facade of the palace is in its earlier phase, before it was redesigned and became the main entrance. The lakefront, instead, is completely different; rural, dirt road, animals grazed and fishing boats were pulled along the shore. Imagine strolling there, with the majestic palace just across the water...

Here's another:

Libreria Leone has a great selection of photo and history books about Stresa and the area.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter, Sunday, Lunch On The Mountain

There's sunshine, warm enough to feel on your skin. There's a roaring fire in the stone hearth. There are bowls of polenta and spezzatino, and plates of potatoes and melted cheese, raclette. There are ski lessons for the little ones and not-so-little ones who are just learning. And there's the Alpyland toboggan for all. 

Where? At the top of Mt. Mottarone in winter. Spend a nice Sunday afternoon there, even if just for the lunch and sunshine part, as well as a little walk around. 

It's about a 30-minute drive from Stresa, winding up the mountain, all the time following signs for Mottarone. It's a toll road, 8 euros per car (as of this writing). You'll drive under the Alpyland track when you're near the top, and then find parking in one of the dirt parking areas or along the road. Parking is all free.

In winter Casa della Neve is the center of the action. Rustic mountain decor, lots of people, large tables of families and friends, warm comfort foods, and views to die for. 

If you take the cableway up from Carciano it takes about 18 minutes, plus another short chairlift ride to reach the top (or a 15-minute walk). Cost: 13.50 euro per adult/8.50 per child 4 to 12 (as of this writing). (

Either way, what views...

Although there is no natural snow at the moment, Mottarone always produces enough snow for the ski lessons. Check the Alpyland, Casa della Neveand Mt. Mottarone Ski School websites for more information.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Things To Do With Children In Stresa

Many of the readers who write to me are traveling to Stresa with their young children. Often, they are concerned about whether the little ones will enjoy the area. I think the best advice is the same that would pertain to traveling with children anywhere. Don't overload them, don't expect them to enjoy too many non-age-appropriate things, and don't tire them out but then expect them to sit through long restaurant meals with you. Let's keep their interests in mind too; after all, it's also their vacation.

That said, fortunately several of the most popular attractions in Stresa will, by their very nature, keep both young and old entertained. Here are some kid-friendly activities right in Stresa that you'll all enjoy together:

Parco and Zoo Pallavicino: The zoo that is also a garden, or, is it the garden with a zoo? Either way, jump on the little trenino train at the Stresa imbarcadero and spend some time visiting both plants and animals. Make sure you stop for a snack at the Scuderia, which is the beautiful restaurant in the renovated stable of the villa property. There's also a playground for children on the property. Read a bit more about Parco and Zoo Pallavicino here.

The Stresa/Mottarone Cablecar: All ages will love the Stresa-Mottarone cablecar, because it quickly rises above Lago Maggiore for the twenty-minute ride up to the top of Mt. Mottarone. Up top, there's room to run around, have a picnic, and enjoy breathtaking views of seven lakes and Alpyland, the fun toboggan ride for all the family.

The Playground: This one's just for them. but why not make it into a nice pause for yourself also? The Stresa playground is located directly on the lungolago, next to Ristorante Verbanella and across the street from the Regina Palace Hotel. It's free and open to all, and has plentiful benches in sun and shade, in view full view of the lake. So, while the kids are burning off some energy, why not purchase a panini for takeaway from Verbanella or elsewhere in town, a bottle of water for all, and catch up on some reading or postcard writing.

Some other thoughts for children are a visit to one of the beaches or pools, ferry boat rides to the islands, or a visit to La Rocca in Angera, the medieval Borromeo fortress with torture chambers and a doll museum, something for everyone.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stresa Train Station: Information And Common Questions

Stresa station, taxis waiting.

Over the years there are certain questions that have been asked repeatedly about train service. This post consolidates that information and the Top Questions About Trains, with the hopes of making it as easy and enjoyable as possible for you to make use of the Italian trains. Check other posts for other transportation information.

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 switching trains at the station in Busto Arsizio, as described in that post. Now there is also the new shuttle train, Milano Express, from Malpensa to Milan. 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. The Malpensa Express runs often and tickets can be purchased on the lower level of Terminal 1, at the train station.

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) trains. 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. You are assigned a seat in these trains and there are some services. 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. They cost far less, making them an economical choice as well. R regional train tickets do not assign you a seat. They are also undated, can be used within a certain timeframe, and must be validated on the day you use them, by punching them in the (usually) yellow validation boxes. See the question below for more information on this. For longer trips between major cities, the Frecce trains are efficient and comfortable.

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. This post has good information on it:

5. What does the information on the signs tell me? 
The screens in train stations 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.

Compare the train number on your ticket with the signs to find your train. Your destination may not be listed; trains are listed with the final destination of the line.

6. Can you tell me if it is a level walk to the railway station, the main ferry departure point and the centre of town as we have a person with a wheelchair in our group.
This is a very good question. Stresa is flat along the lake and has a wide path that runs the entire distance of the lakefront between the two imbarcaderos, a distance of one mile.  Piazza Cadorna, the center of Stresa,  is just a couple of streets in from the lake and is also flat and very accessible. However, a little bit further inland Stresa begins to travel uphill very quickly and steeply. The train station is located here, about a 15 minute walk from the lakefront, but a bit uphill. Therefore, choosing a hotel along the lake and using ferries keeps one on flat ground. Many of the private water taxis are also wheelchair accessible. If you must use the train perhaps it would be best to arrange for a taxi or private car, which your hotel should be able to assist you to do. Taxis can also usually be found at the train station and boat dock.

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


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.

Located on via Carducci , Stresa's train station is 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 and wood trimmed. There are large framed photographs on the walls, sepia toned, historical photos from long ago.

There is a bar; it 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, 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.

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Swimming Locations Around Stresa

La Baia Rosa pool and Beach Club; Piazzale Lido; Carciano:

The temperature is in the upper 20s every day and the sun shining. Luckily there are many beaches and pools along the Lago Maggiore coastline. Don't think wide, mile-long expanses of beach.. think more small, semiprivate sections where one can sunbathe or cool down in the lake. All are close to some sort of refreshment stand or small restaurant, or bring your own with you.

La Baia Rosa, pictured above, is Stresa's public pool and beach club. There is a small free beach area where you can bring your own towel or chair, and another with an entrance fee for a chaise lounge and umbrella. Likewise, the pool has entrance fees. A snack bar and two restaurants in the piazza make it a lovely spot to wile away a hot summer day.

AquaAdventure Park, in Baveno, is a large pool and activity complex. Best thing about it: When it rains they cover the pool, making it a great activity for a rainy day. It's only three kilometers from Stresa, but best reached by car or taxi. For more info: AquaAdventure Park.

This small rocky public beach is in Stresa, across from the Astoria Hotel on the Lungolago, and next to Caffe Bar Verbanella and the children's playground.

This is the Lido Blu beach, really almost hidden behind the Lido Blu bar. The newly refurbished, clean and sandy beach is public and yet quiet. You can find it in Stresa across the street from the Regina Palace Hotel. Chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and the swimming area is roped off.

On the western side of Stresa, just before leaving the town for Belgirate, you'll find tiny Lov Beach, with its island vibe and tiny mini golf course.

The Lido Beach Club, in Baveno, one of my favorite spots for an aperitivo or to watch the sun set. And it's a great beach during the day where chairs, umbrellas, even entire gazebos can be rented.

In Feriolo, two villages to the east of Stresa along Lago Maggiore, there is a large sandy and tranquil beach. The tiny town has several charming restaurants along the lake and closes to cars each evening in the summer. It can be reached by bus or ferry.

Further afield, in Cannobio near the Swiss border, the winds are perfect for windsurfing and sailing, thanks to the convergence of two valleys and a different facing direction on the lake. Cannobio is a beautiful town worth visiting, about 40 minutes from Stresa by car, bus, or ferry.

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