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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stresa Sights Chosen as 'Blog Of The Week' By ITALY Magazine

We are so proud and happy to have been chosen this week by ITALY Magazine to be featured as their Blog of the Week.

I was thrilled when contacted by Pat Eggleton of ITALY Magazine to do the interview. And the process of answering her questions was a valuable exercise for me as well. It strengthened and clarified for me my understanding of why I like Stresa, why I love doing this.

ITALY Magazine is, in their own words, "The n.1 magazine for all lovers of all things Italian. Fall in love with ITALY through our feature articles, catch up with the latest news, property and travel information or join our forums to share your passion for Italy with others."

Here's my interview. For those of you who have wondered about Stresa Sights and how I got here this may answer some of those questions.

Meet Dana Kaplan, who blogs from Stresa, a lakeside city on Lago Maggiore in Northern Italy. In Stresa Sights her aim is to share the beauty of this area with others and inspire them to visit.

Dana, where are you from originally?
I’m a Brooklyn girl, Flatbush and Canarsie. Then college in Boston, and I’ve lived in New York City and the suburbs of Philadelphia. So I’ve always been in the Northeastern United States. You can imagine what a change Stresa is.

I can indeed! Why did you settle in Stresa?
Stresa found me. That is, I met friends who lived here and I've been visiting for some years now. Once I saw it I just fell in love with the area and now I spend as much time here as I can.

Can you tell us about the area where you live?
Stresa fascinates me. It is a combination of natural beauty and man-made wonders. Stresa sits on the shore of the Borromeo Gulf of Lago Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake. To the north there are the Alps. To the west is the wine country of Piemonte and the rice fields of Vercelli. To our east the lake extends all the way into Switzerland. And we can easily reach Milan, just 30 minutes to the south.

What do you love about Stresa?
I love this combination of private town and tourist attraction. Everyone’s always in a good mood because they’re on vacation. But mostly, I love the views. There are palm trees lining the shore, snow-capped Alps behind them, and wind blows the water across the gulf while all sorts of boats cruise past. I’ll never tire of seeing this.

Is there anything that drives you crazy?
It’s been difficult for me to learn Italian here because of the international nature of the city. Everyone wants to speak English with me!

Can you describe some local dishes?
There really aren’t any dishes that are truly particular to Stresa. There are fresh fish from the lake, especially pesce persico, a variety of perch. But mostly Stresa’s cuisine benefits from its wonderful location. There are the best wines of Piemonte, the creative and cosmopolitan cooking styles of Milan, and in the mountains one finds warm, hearty traditional mountain fare such as brasato and polenta, chinghiale [wild boar] stew, and the regional Toma and Bettelmatt cheeses.

When and why did you start your blog?
I started the blog just as a way to record some of my own experiences. However, it quickly became apparent that there was a great need for an English language resource for Stresa. Since then, Stresa Sights has grown into a guide to help people who are planning to come here, and also to inspire those who have never heard of Stresa to think about visiting. I hope, that with the help of the blog, people feel they already have some friends in Stresa before they even arrive.

Who contributes to your blog?
I have had so much help from the wonderful people I’ve met through the blog. Residents, shop owners, readers and travellers have all contributed. Through these connections I’ve been able to sometimes give personalized advice to travellers. It’s this type of personal interaction, being a liaison between the town and the tourists, that has brought me the most pleasure.

What do you blog about?
A lot of the inspiration comes from my readers. For example, the number one item searched for on the blog is directions to Stresa from Malpensa airport. So, one day upon arriving I took photos of all of the exit signs during the drive and posted a pictorial set of directions. It’s still the most looked at post on the blog. I write about events taking place in Stresa, the main attractions, food, shopping, a little history. I’ve interviewed several people in town. Basically whatever captures me about Stresa at that moment and what readers have asked for.

If a tourist has only one day in Stresa, what should they see?
They must visit the Borromean Islands. These three islands, two of which still belong to the Borromeo family, rich and powerful in this region for five centuries, are always a delightful surprise to visitors. Isola Bella boasts the family palace; Isola Madre is a tropical garden stocked with exotic plants and white peacocks and the family’s more casual villa; and the tiny Isola dei Pescatori is, as it was for centuries, a small fishing village. A visitor could take the ferry from Stresa, visit the islands, and still have time for a dinner in the piazza.

All your blog posts are interesting but can you recommend one or two especially for Italy Magazine readers?
In addition to the islands I want potential visitors to know about the Settimane Musicali, the music festival that takes place in Stresa each summer. I also very much enjoyed interviewing Stresa’s passionate mayor, Canio Di Milia, and I want everyone to see L’Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso, just one of the most gorgeous medieval abbeys anywhere.

Thank you for talking to Italy Magazine, Dana. Happy blogging.
Grazie, and I hope to see you in Stresa soon!


This recognition is lovely... But what's really even lovelier, as I said in the interview, is the incredible people that I've met through Stresa Sights. And so I must thank all of you as well: my readers and those who write in with questions and comments, friends who have contributed photos, videos and information, Stresiani who have contacted me, worked with me, and let me interview them, and always, Giuseppe.

Now let's get back to work!

This week's online ITALY magazine edition focuses on 'A Taste of Northern Italy.' In addition to the interview piece about Stresa Sights there are articles about Fashion Week in Milano and the Torrone and Torroni Festival in Cremona. Take a look at it here and subscribe to receive it automatically in your email.

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