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Friday, October 31, 2008
9:17 PM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
Four straight days of rain here in Stresa. Enough to make me think back to an afternoon two weeks ago in Villa Taranto, where I took these photos. Flowers, sunshine, blue skies... that's more like it.
It took a Scottish captain, Neil McEacharn, thirty years to create this stunning property, which he then donated to Italy. It will take you one to two hours to meander its 20 hectares of gardens on the 7 km of paths. And then leave yourself a few minutes more to relax with a glass of wine in the cafe located at the entrance.
Giardini Botanici Villa Taranto, Verbania Pallanza
Open from April 1 to October 31, daily from 8.30 to 19.30
Minutes from Stresa by car, or with boat service to Villa Taranto
Web site: www.villataranto.it
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
10:48 AM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
Ti piace il cappuccino? Do you like cappuccino? If so, there’s a fun and informative thread right now in the forum on my favorite travel site, Slowtrav.com. It discusses just what it is that makes the cappuccino in Italy better than anywhere else, why it’s so difficult to recreate that cup of cappuccino at home, and tons of tips for getting as close to it as you can. If you’re into cappuccino it’s fun reading and obsessively detailed, right down to the temperature of the milk used for frothing and the frothing wand position. I’ll admit right now that I’ve never even attempted to make a cappuccino at home. For me its all about going to the cappuccino bars, hearing the banging and whirring, watching the people coming and going, listening to the regulars catching up with each other. Cappuccino in the morning and espresso later on; I love the flow and pace of it. Here are a few of my favorite cappuccino bars in Stresa:
Sunday, October 26, 2008
8:29 PM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
I ate an ostrich last night! This was at La Taverna del Mago, in Verbania, a truly local Italian restaurant. What I mean is, it's purpose isn't to feed multitudes of tourists. Owned by a man known to all only as il Mago, the restaurant is known for it's fresh ingredients, traditional regional cooking, and its superb wine list. First il Mago brought us a little plate of polpette and another of verdure in pastella. Meatballs, and vegetable tempura. Then there were bowls of fettuccine al nero di seppia con gamberi, black pasta with shrimp. Finally, the house specialty I've been wanting for so long to try, Filetto Special di Struzzo Sulla Pietra Ollare, servito crudo e cucinato da te al tavolo. Filet of ostrich on a Ollare stone, served raw and cooked by you at the table. We lay the pieces of ostrich filet on the oven-hot Ollare stone and listened to them sizzle. A couple of minutes for each side was all they needed. This was so worth waiting for. Everything was excellent, from the food to the wine to the service. For two first plates, and the ostrich for two, excluding wine, we spent about 50 euro. Some popular dishes remain on the menu throughout a season, but il Mago will also come to your table to tell you the three special dishes he's prepared each day. If you're lucky, maybe you'll catch one of the special event evenings, such as his all-ostrich meal, or the snail dinner, or when there is a local band playing. The events are listed on the Web site. Coming up soon is the evening of Stoccafisso alla Vicentina...
La Taverna del Mago, Viale Azari, 94, Verbania Pallanza. Closed Monday night.
Web site: www.latavernadelmago.it
La Taverna del Mago, Viale Azari, 94, Verbania Pallanza. Closed Monday night.
Web site: www.latavernadelmago.it
Friday, October 24, 2008
1:10 PM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
It's Friday, so let's talk about the market. Don't worry, not the stock market! Let's talk instead about the Stresa Outdoor Market, which happens every Friday morning in Piazza Capucci . One of my favorite routines. I usually have a mission in mind when I go to the market and today was no different. With the weather forecast still looking nice for tomorrow, and therefore hiking plans still on, I was shopping for some picnic lunch supplies. The market is not huge, but it's certainly big enough and maze-like enough for one to get a little lost in, both figuratively and literally. You can find all sorts of fresh foods here, as well as clothes, shoes, jewelry, housewares, and flowers. The quality of most of the merchandise is good; no used items here, and many of the vendors know at least a bit of English. Since I tend to focus on whatever particular item I'm shopping for each week, it's always like a new market to me. So what picnic goodies did I choose today? Some mortadella and prosciutto, some toma cheese, a piece of polpettone, a few apples, and some dried fruits. After finding my picnic supplies, my nose lead me, like it always does, to the roast chicken vendor. "Un pollo, ben cotto!" One chicken, well cooked!, I asked for. That wasn't for the picnic. That's a Friday lunch routine that is always quite delicious. And it was...
The Stresa outdoor market is open all year, in Piazza Capucci, from early in the morning until 1 pm. Other towns in the area have their market days on other days of the week; if you're a market fan there will always be one somewhere.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
11:05 PM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
The long-range forecast for the weekend looks good and so we are planning to take a walk on one of Stresa's beautiful trails. The choice is between the hike down from the Giardino Alpinia, and The Chestnut Route, also known as the Sentiero dei Castagni. I think I'd prefer the latter this time, partly because I am still in my seasonal chestnut mood, and partly because it is the less strenuous of the two. We can leave right from the center of Stresa and make our way past waterfalls, across meadows, through villages, all on clearly marked and well-defined paths that are, of course, covered in chestnuts this time of year. Taking the trail all the way to it's end would leave us in Belgirate, the next town, where we would have to take the ferry or train back to Stresa. So instead, we may walk about half way, to the small church with the amazing view of the lake, have a little picnic lunch, and then return back the way we came. This walk should take us about 2 hours round-trip; all the way to Belgirate would take longer, about 3 hours. Next question... what should we pack for lunch?
A leaflet titled "Trekking Mottarone", available at the Stresa Tourist Office, details several of the walks in the area.
Monday, October 20, 2008
8:57 PM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
Met a couple of friends yesterday for aperitivo at Al Buscion, my favorite wine bar in Stresa. Because it's only one block off the lake, and right next to a few of the biggest hotels in the old center of town, it's a popular spot for tourists. Listen to the conversations around you and you'll hear English, German, French, and maybe even some Italian! Last night the large table in the corner was filled with Germans who were happily celebrating something. One after another, they hushed their group and made toasts that then collapsed the group into laughter. I love the international and happy atmosphere here. But I also love the wine. Buscion is an old Piemontese dialect word meaning the cork in the wine bottle, and wine is really the star here. Massimo enjoys trying new bottles and you never know what's going to be open. I asked for a red wine and I was served a Sangiovese from Montepulciano, very sweet and with a strong cherry aroma and flavor. My next glass of red was also Tuscan, but quite different. I like that Massimo uses beautiful glasses of the right shape for each wine. But the best part of this wine-tasting experience is certainly the price. Most glasses cost only 2 to 3 euro each. That's worth toasting to!
Al Buscion Vineria e Degustazione, Via Principessa Margherita, 18, Stresa
Hours of operation vary depending on the season
Sunday, October 19, 2008
9:50 PM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
Chestnuts! Every autumn Northern Italy has a problem with the overwhelming overabundance of chestnuts. The solution is to hold chestnut festivals in every town and to roast, cook, bake, and enjoy chestnuts in every imaginable way. I met these men, members of the local fire department, doing chestnut duty along the Stresa lakefront one Sunday morning roasting chestnuts in pans over simple fires. A bushel of chestnuts, some red wine, and a lot of smoke later, and I was walking along the water with a paper bag full of hot roasted chestnuts. Restaurants in the area will be serving chestnuts in a variety of ways throughout the season. I've spotted chestnut crepes called necci, chestnut soup, and chestnut gnocchi with toma cheese, just to name a few. The sweetest way of all to prepare these castagne is certainly the marrone glace, in which chestnuts are preserved with sugared liquor into a soft, candied consistency. A box of these can cost more than a box of fine chocolates. A much more economical way to try these is to go into the Jolly Bar and buy just a couple of them to enjoy with your cappuccino.
Events are provided by STRESA 2.0
- Where can I buy foreign newspapers in Stresa?
- Where can I eat breakfast in Stresa?
- Where are the public restrooms in Stresa?
- Is there a laundromat in Stresa?
- Can I rent a wheelchair in Stresa?
- Should I buy train tickets in advance?
- Are there any day tours to Switzerland from Stresa?
- How can I arrange a civil wedding in Stresa?
- How bad are the summer bugs in Stresa?
- Do I Need A Car In Stresa?
- Is there an Internet cafe in Stresa?
- Is there a supermarket in Stresa?
- Is it too isolated staying at an Isola dei Pescatori hotel?
- Will we need a car if we are staying at Isolino Camping Village?
- Are there any ethnic restaurants in Stresa?
- Can I buy tickets in advance for ferry or the cablecar?
- I was wondering if you might know or recall the name of this restaurant in Baveno?
IMPORTANT POSTS AND LINKS
- If You Have Only One Day in Stresa
- Top Ten Things to See in Stresa
- Alibus Shuttle From Malpensa to Stresa
- Driving Directions From Malpensa - With Photos
- Train Service from Malpensa to Stresa and Milano
- Linate Airport to Stresa Directions
- Milan Tram System Map and Transport
- Bus Schedule
- Stresa Boat Imbarcadero
- Stresa to Mottarone Cableway
- Bus, Train, and Taxi From Malpensa Airport
- Boat Schedule - English
- PosteItaliane - Postal service
- Trenitalia Site and Schedule -- English
- Weather Forecast
- Winter Trip to Stresa? Start Planning Here
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