Wednesday, January 11, 2012
8:04 AM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
Okay. There's no denying that Stresa is a very different place in winter and summer. Just take a look at Piazza Cadorna:
What is Stresa like in the winter? The umbrellas and outdoor tables are gone, and so are the crowds. In their place there is only empty piazza, and some construction crews doing maintenance work and renovations during the off season. The large hotels along the lungolago are, for the most part, closed up until spring. When I searched on Booking.com for Stresa in January the result shows only two hotels open in Stresa, one more on Mt. Mottarone, and two BandBs. It is the same with restaurants. Some are closed for the season, some have only small seating areas inside instead of their outdoor terraces and gardens, and some have greatly reduced hours. The main tourist attractions, the Borromeo islands and properties, and all of the gardens, are also all closed until spring.
But that isn't going to stop us from doing (at least!) 5 awesome things here, right?
Yep, that's right. In spite of all the winter closures, winter tourism seems to be increasing in Stresa. As was reported recently in La Stampa, this past New Year's Eve 24 tour buses arrived in Stresa, carrying upwards of 1,000 tourists, to give them a quick view and tour as part of a five-day package they were on. This is interesting, and perhaps it is the first of other such visits.
Stresa's average temperature in the winter months is between 45 and 55 degrees.
But I am speaking more to those of you who would think to come to Stresa in the middle of winter for more than just one day. There are those of you who have been here several times before and may want to see what Stresa is like at other times of the year. There are those of you who like the winter season and its sports. And there may be those of you who prefer the quiet, tranquil months of winter. The winter weather here, as seen in the chart above, is not terrible. It is mild enough for long walks along the lake or through the trails and it rarely snows.
So what do I suggest to do? Here are 5 things you can do while in Stresa in the winter, and you may notice that most of them are not that different from things that can be done also in the summer:
While it does not snow much in central Stresa, up on the mountain there should be plenty of the white stuff to ski in. And if not in Stresa there are several other ski locations within an hour or two. Read about skiing in and near Stresa here. And okay, I know you can't do this one in the summer, but you can visit Mt. Mottarone in any season.
And while up on Mottarone take a winter trip on the Alpyland bobsled ride. It's open almost all year.
Go to Milan
Milan is wonderful any time of year but in the winter the crowds are less and the weather isn't as brutally hot. Maybe it will even be easier to get those tickets to see Da Vinci's Last Supper. During the Christmas season enjoy the lights and the shopping. Enjoy the sunshine atop the Duomo year-round. I recently had lunch outdoors on the rooftop terrace of Rinascente -- in mid-December.
Try Some Traditional Winter Foods
Nothing could be more cozy, wintery, and Piemontese than to be at the summit of Mt. Mottarone at Ristorante Casa della Neve, warm by the fireplace and drinking a glass of Fil da Fer. After that as an aperitivo move into the restaurant and share a meal of Raclette or a Brasato con Polenta. All foods that are very common in the mountainous north, and all some of my favorite reasons to like winter here.
Don't Forget That Italian Hot Chocolate!
That intensely thick and syrupy hot chocolate, cioccolata calda, that is absolutely nothing like our watered down American powdered versions. What would be perfect would be a long brisk walk along the lake and then wind up back in town to warm up in one of the bars with a cup.
Go for a Hike
As long as it is not snowing or freezing, there's no reason that you wouldn't enjoy the same walking and hiking around Stresa as in the summer. Perhaps stay on the lower trails that parallel the lake. Nature has its beauty in every season, and with leaves missing from the trees there are some otherwise hidden views of the lake.
Relax at a spa
After that skiing and hiking, or okay, even instead of, refresh and relax at the Centro Benessere Spa at the Hotel des Iles Borromees. The Borromees Hotel is open in the winter, offering special rates and packages.
That's more than five to get you started. Read all of the WINTER posts here. Writing this list has reminded me of some of my favorite things to do in Stresa -- in any season. Some others? Go to some of the small museums that you didn't want to visit in the summer, take a ride on the ferry (the schedule is reduced in the winter) and visit another town, take a trip up to the Premia Terme natural hot springs, visit the Friday market (yummy and much the same all year round). My point is, if you find yourself in Stresa in the winter, when you can see a bit of what it is 'really' like, I hope you will let it charm you.
It is not only the sun in Stresa that will warm your heart.
Non e' solo il sole a Stresa che ti scaldera' il cuore.
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IMPORTANT POSTS AND LINKS
- Important Train Information
- Alibus Shuttle From Malpensa to Stresa
- Driving Directions From Malpensa - With Photos
- If You Have Only One Day in Stresa
- Top Ten Things to See in Stresa
- Parking a Car in Stresa
- Train Service from Malpensa to Stresa and Milano
- Linate Airport to Stresa Directions
- Milan Tram System Map and Transport
- Bus Schedule
- Stresa Boat Imbarcadero
- Stresa to Mottarone Cableway
- Boat Schedule - English
- PosteItaliane - Postal service
- Trenitalia Site and Schedule -- English
- Winter Trip to Stresa? Start Planning Here
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