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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hotel Belvedere, Isola Pescatori -- Travelers' Choice Winner!



Walk up the stairs on the left to reach the terrace of Hotel Belvedere from the beach.

I spent some time wandering, on a very warm spring day last year , around tiny Isola Pescatore. When I stopped for lunch I chose to have it at the restaurant at the Hotel Belvedere. Sitting on the terrace, with the sun warming my skin, watching boats large and small cruise past, I thought to myself that this was a special little corner of the world. And although just a tiny corner, it seems that it has come to the attention of many others as well. Tiny Albergo Ristorante Belvedere, with only eight rooms, was recently chosen by Tripadvisor readers as one of the ten most romantic hotels in Europe. Wow.






The terrace is large, but well hidden from the rest of the island, and oh so quiet.

From March through November Isola Pescatori can be somewhat crowded with tourists. But the Belvedere, located on the northeastern side, is on the opposite side of the island from the landing dock, and therefore quieter. That's why I chose it for my lunch spot. The gravel terrace has enough tables and umbrellas for 200, and the restaurant inside seats the same amount. The menu is a nice selection of fresh local fish, cheese made in the Ossala valley, Piemontese wines, even the rice is from a local producer. The carefully tended garden surrounding the terrace had bowers of climbing plants that were only starting to open when I was there. Imagine how they are blooming by the middle of the summer.

From the beach and terrace, always a view of Isola Madre.

I walked through the indoor restaurant. It often hosts banquests and wedding receptions. Old photographs show that at one time the walls were covered completely in small stones, but a renovation in 2004 covered them. The eight guest rooms were also renovated at that time. Six of the rooms have large balconies that look out towards Isola Madre. All the rooms have en suite baths, some with hydromassage tubs, and all have their own heating and air conditioning systems.

And the view from the room is pretty special also...

The tourist boats do not run all night to the island; in fact they stop around dinner time even in the high season. Therefore, the crowds of the day leave. The island takes on a different persona then, with only its 50 full-time residents and a handful of guests. It becomes still, peaceful, and quiet. Guests who want to come for dinner at one of the restaurants need to make private arrangements with a water taxi. Guests staying at the hotel can stroll, listen to the water, watch the lights twinkling in Stresa and Baveno. It does sound romantic, doesn't it?

Here's the link to Hotel Belvedere:
And here's the link to the entire list of Travelers' Choice 2010 selections on Tripadvisor:
www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice

And here, another post about Isola Pescatori:
stresasights.blogspot.com/2009/03/isola-pescatore

some photos courtesy of Hotel & Ristorante Belvedere


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