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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Sample Four-Day, Two-Lake, Two-Country Itinerary


The route of the Lago Maggiore Express. How would you make it your own?

Are you planning your summer trip to Stresa? Thinking about how to organize your days and what you want to see here? From the mails I receive it seems many of you are doing just that. And while you all have your own ideas, your own interests, and your own priorities for your trip, it's helpful sometimes to see a planned itinerary to use as a starting point, to help you dream of your own.

A reader, E., wrote to me asking a couple of questions about her upcoming four-day trip to Stresa. She had already mapped out her days and was filling in the last details. I LOVE her itinerary... With her permission, take a look and see how E. will spend her relatively short stay in the area:

E. will arrive in Stresa and spend two nights in a hotel here on the lake. They plan to explore Stresa in that time, and to take an afternoon and visit Lago Orta, about 30 minutes away.

Lago Orta

After the second night in Stresa they will jump aboard the Lago Maggiore Express, taking the train directly from Stresa and changing in Domodossola to the Centovale Railroad. They plan to use the two-day ticket, which means they can complete the circuit shown above on the map over a two-day period, at their leisure, embarking and disembarking at will. This scenic track will take them through the Valle Vigezzo and the Alps, both Italian and then Swiss, and finally bring them to Locarno, on the Swiss side of Lago Maggiore.

The Centrovale Railroad travels through many spectacular chasms such as this on its journey through the Alps.

From Locarno they will take the Navigazione di Laghi ferry back across the Italian border, where they plan to stop in Cannobio, another special little town on the lake. Here they'll spend a night at Albergo Antica Stallera.

Cannobio's Waterfront

The next day they'll catch a ferry again, back to Stresa and the Borromean Islands. They plan to disembark on Isola Pescatori, where they have booked one night in the lovely Hotel Belvedere. This gives them the afternoon, night, and the next morning the explore the islands.

And from there, finally, they will take the direct shuttle bus from Stresa to Malpensa airport, to catch their flight home. As E. put it in her mail, "I cannot think of a prettier place to spend my last night in Italy!" She's right you know...

I'm sure this itinerary isn't for all of you. Some of you only want to stay in Stresa and do nothing more than stroll and relax. Some are set on an active, outdoor experience. All choices are good. What I do like about this itinerary is the sheer variety of it. It has mountains, valleys, lakes... trains, boats, cars... and it's very doable and not as strenuous as it might seem. The trains and boats are a relaxing way to travel, and what you do in between is entirely up to you. This itinerary can be almost indefinitely adapted to individual tastes, and it can be done in the other direction as well. I hope it inspires you in some way as you plan yours.



Recently I've been getting so many wonderful mails from readers. They challenge us with questions about Stresa, they share stories about times they've been here and what their connections are to here, and they teach me so many things that I didn't yet know about this place. Thanks to E., and to all of you... and keep it coming!


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