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Friday, August 14, 2009

Parco And Zoo Pallavicino

Hai una carota per me? Do you have a carrot for me?

One morning, instead of my usual jog along the lake, I decided to combine my exercise with bit of sightseeing. And so instead of turning left at the Stresa Imbarcadero, I turned right, and jogged about five minutes the short distance to the Parco and Zoo Pallavicino. I was able to do a good invigorating walk on the hilly paths of the 20 hectares of the park and zoo, and then, after cooling down with a water bottle bought at the Chalet Bar, I walked through again, more leisurely this time.

The Parco and Zoo Pallavicino is an interesting combination of zoo, historic villa, and beautiful Italian garden. From my perspective, visiting in July when all is in full bloom, I'd say it seemed more garden than zoo. But little travelers may see it differently, and that the cages and enclosures are hidden behind plants until one is directly upon them might give children a bit of a surprise-around-every-corner feel. Actually, it did for me as well. To walk through a rose garden, and then around a water pond, only to come nose-to-nose with a zebra in his cage, was quite novel. Make sure you notice both the famous cypress arches, and the over 40 species of mammals and exotic birds.

The rose garden.

Famous cypress arches line the entrance road, framing Lago Maggiore. Beautiful, even on an overcast morning.

A water garden.

The interior of the villa, built in the 1800s, is not open to visitors, but its grounds are used as a venue for some of the Stresa Festival events. It, and all the parkland, is still owned by the Pallavicino family. They made the park available to the public in the 1950s, and it's become one of the popular sights in Stresa, whether you're looking for gardens, things to do with children, or tutte le due, both.

Villa Pallavicino, as seen from the top of the zoo. Summer concerts are held in the courtyard.

The park is usually open from mid-March until late October. Maps are provided at the ticket booth. If you don't want to walk from Stresa, the zoo offers the trenino shuttle back and forth from the Stresa Imbarcadero; this is definitely part of the experience for little ones, as well as a convenience for all. Information about the trenino is on their website. And take note, the paths in the park go up and down fairly steep hills, and are for the most part only covered with gravel. Wear your comfy shoes.

If you are walking from Stresa to the park you will pass Lov Beach, a small beach, bar, and mini golf location. Also a nice stop for little ones.

Parco and Zoo Pallavicino are on the list of the Top Ten Things to do in Stresa. Take a look at the whole list here.


Web site for prices and current information: http://www.parcopallavicino.it/

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