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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Images Of A Stresa Of Long, Long Ago


"View of Stresa and of Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore"

Shopping around in Stresa this summer, old prints and reprints have been catching my eye everywhere. I often find myself lost for a good long time, going through a stack of old prints safe in their plastic sleeves, or looking intently at racks of postcards featuring them. I find them fascinating...

For example, the print above. Here it is again, a little larger:


It takes only a few seconds to place the view. There is Isola Bella after all... and that must be the road that has become the main street, Sempione Nord, which continues all the way to the Sempione Pass... and oh yes, that must be the church, Chiesa Parrocchiale di Sant'Ambrogio, the one that is now across from the big parking lot at the imbarcadero. There's the mountain in Baveno, already being quarried even then we can tell... and little Mt. Orfano to its right. And that's all. No hotels, no Lungolago, no port for boats. But what's incredible to me is not so much what has changed since this time, but what HASN'T. Here is proof that Isola Bella looked then as it does now, for all these centuries, even when there was nothing else here. How much more impressive it must have been then ... a magnificent vision, this creation, in the middle of a vastly undeveloped bay. 


Yes, Isola Bella is very much unchanged.


In the image above, which is a scene from 1845, we can get an idea of what was taking place where now there are luxurious hotels and the Lungolago. This appears to be Corso Umberto I in Stresa, perhaps that is the church again on the far left? And the land seems to have been used for grazing. This is possibly about where Hotel Regina Palace, or Bar Verbanella on the other side of the street, are located today.

I can idle away many hours like this... immersed in these pastoral images of a Stresa that used to be.
(  Continued  )

There are a few places in particular that I like to browse these. Many souvenir shops in Stresa have postcards featuring these antique images. I love these, as great little keepsakes or to put into small frames. I saw this collection of postcards at the souvenir shop Croatto, beneath Hotel Eden in the piazza. I especially like the authentic sepia tones.

At Croatto, in Piazza Cadorna

One of my favorite shops to look in is the wonderful Alberti Libreria Cartoleria, in Intra, Verbania. This bookshop, on the corner of Corso Garibaldi, has a superb collection of prints and postcards, including some featuring little watercolors.

At Alberti Libreria Cartoleria, in Intra.

Most of these prints and reproductions are not expensive. Postcards are the usual 50 euro cents to 1 euro or so. Another option is to buy a book dedicated to the history of the area. Some are very well illustrated with old images. 


**********

Librario Alberti, Corso Garibaldi, 74, 28921 Verbania Intra. 




all images property of Stresa Sights.

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