Saturday, April 6, 2013
7:10 AM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
I had heard that people were talking about the new entrance at the Hotel des Iles Borromees, and so one sunny day I took my camera and walked over to see it. Approaching on the sidewalk you can first see a couple of new columns reaching into the sky....
The 5-start hotel is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and among many other festivities to commemorate the occasion they have decided to design this new entrance to the existing driveway leading to the parking area. It's been built during this past winter, and finishing touches were being put on when I visited to take these photos.
( continued ... )
Before this, the driveway was adorned with simple columns and a gate; rather unmemorable. I didn't see a gate now, and I'm not sure if there are plans to include one. The new design features three pairs of columns, each topped with a large iron filigree arch, creating two arches along the interior sidewalk, and one larger arch into the Borromees property.
The main arch is centered on the Fountain of the Continents in the background.
The larger arch features the classic Borromeo symbol, the unicorn, in a symmetrical design at the top. Two unicorns are leaning their front legs on the Stresa shield, and each is standing on a little banner. Apparent only when I zoomed in with my camera, the banners carry the same motto seen in the mosaic tile entrance to the hotel: Luxus, and Hospitalita, Luxury and Hospitality. This arch is centered on, and draws the eye to, the Fountain of the Continents. Walk up the staircase on either side of the fountain to go into the round center, where at certain times each day the fountains do a little dance to a musical accompaniment.
This closeup of the large arch shows the unicorn detail, the design taken from the mosaic main entrance to the hotel, seen below.
Closeup of the Fountain of the Continents
The two side arches do not have the unicorn adornments, but are instead quite lavish, identical filigree designs. Turning left, that arch leads into the hotel's gardens, whose paths and benches are open to the public. Turning right, that arch leads down the interior sidewalk to the main entrance. Personally, I think this right arch will become a very popular spot for photos. Just look how nicely it makes a frame, with a bit of mountains in the background.
Arch to the left enters the gardens.
Arch to the right makes a nice frame.
All of the columns, which are really more like short walls, are decorated with statues; either whole figures, half figures holding up columns with their heads, or smaller, cherub type figures sitting atop the structures. The cherubs are pointing or gazing; all of the statues remind me of those in the gardens on Isola Bella.
There's been a lot of discussion about the entrance since it began to materialize. Some groups in town have not been pleased with its effect on the ambiance of the street. In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, I like it. A lot. I think it blends perfectly with the building and grounds behind it. I think it is proud and noble, which the hotel has every right to be. You don't get to be 150 years old and a 5-star hotel by being shy. I think it attracts people to that entrance, which before looked more like a service entrance than anything else. Because don't forget, many parts of the Hotel des Iles Borromees are open to the public. You can freely walk through the garden, visit the fountain, come inside and eat in the restaurant. The menu is posted outside of the main entrance. You may not be able to stay here, but you certainly can visit and enjoy parts of it if you want to. I find the new entrance to be beautiful, open and inviting, not restricting. After all, does this little guy look unfriendly to you?
(This guy in the garden however, hiding in a bush, him I would worry about.)
Read about the hotel gardens
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