Lakeview Apartments!!

Lakeview Apartments!!
Bella Vista 1-bedroom holiday rentals

Heart of Stresa Apartments!!

Heart of Stresa Apartments!!
Stresa Apartments 1-bedroom holiday rentals

SEARCH THIS BLOG

STRESA WEATHER

STRESA WEATHER
Click for Forecast

2017 DATES ARE ONLINE

2017 DATES ARE ONLINE
CLICK HERE!

STRESA MAP

Malpensa / Stresa Bus

Malpensa / Stresa Bus
Available From 1 April to 15 Oct 2017 - Click to Book -
Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ernest Hemingway's Stresa

Hemingway rowing in front of Hotel des Iles Borromees.

I've started rereading Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. It's been a long, long time since I've read the classic, and that was certainly long before I had ever heard of an Italian city named Stresa, or would know how it would come to figure into my life. It's well known that Stresa is the setting for one portion of the novel; but what isn't as known is how semi-autobiographical the story is, and how Hemingway's own experiences in Stresa shaped those that he wrote about.

In 1918, the 19-year-old Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American Red Cross Volunteer, driving an ambulance in Italy. After being injured at Fossalta di Piave, in July 1918, he was sent to the Red Cross hospital in Milan. There, he had hundreds of pieces of schrapnel removed from his legs, and during his recuperation, he fell in love with his nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. By September, Ernest was well enough to be given a 10-day pass from the hospital, and decided to go to Stresa to regain his strength in the fresh air of the lake. He wore the ring that Agnes had given to him. He was traveling with another ambulance driver, Johnny Miller, and they stayed in Room 106 at the Hotel des Iles Borromees, a first-floor suite that overlooks the gardens in front of the hotel and looks to the islands in the gulf beyond. He wrote to his parents: "I'm up here at Stresa a little resort on Lake Maggiore one of the most beautiful of the Italian Lakes." While there, young Ernest was known to enjoy martinis at the bar, and to play billiards with Conte Emanuele Greppi. He also became friendly with Bianca Bellia, daughter of Piervincenzo Bellia, who was one of the wealthiest men in Italy at that time. It is known that they took a trip up the Mottorone tram together, to the top of Mt. Mottarone, to take in a view of the lake, the lakes surrounding it, and the Swiss Alps to their north.

It's clear to see the many parallels between this trip of Ernest's and the setting as used in A Farewell to Arms. The major difference, of course, is that while this trip was a pleasant diversion for Ernest, for Frederick Henry the area is gray and cold and muddy, and it marks the beginning of the tragic end to the story of him and the nurse Catherine Barclay.

A Farewell to Arms was published in 1929. Hemingway returned to Stresa fondly, saying that it felt like home to him, and staying always in suite 106. There are many photos of Hemingway in the hotel; at the bar, and in a small fishing boat in the lake among them. The influence on the book is obvious; what is interesting to me is how Hemingway was able to transform the beauty he himself experienced in Stresa into the tragic setting of the story. What I like to remember, however, is how much Hemingway enjoyed it here, for the same reasons that we all do.


This is but one fascinating footnote in Stresa's long history; Perhaps you'll enjoy these others also:

The Story of L'Idrovolante
Isola Bella, Beautiful Island -- A Little Background
Or read through all of the History posts here.

All images courtesy of the Comune di Stresa.

Follow On Facebook For More Posts

PLANNING A TRIP TO STRESA?

PLANNING A TRIP TO STRESA?
A Top Attractions Starting Point

SOME IMPORTANT DATES


Visit The Stresa Tourist Office For Complete Event Schedules

VACATIONS AND WORKSHOPS

VACATIONS AND WORKSHOPS
Before or after Stresa, plan more of your trip to Italy with Villa Vita!

CURRENCY CONVERTER

CURRENCY CONVERTER
Click here for a fast and easy currency converter.

STRESA SIGHTS by DANA KAPLAN

STRESA SIGHTS by DANA KAPLAN
If you don't already receive Italian Notebook, sign up immediately to receive this wonderful daily dose of Italy.