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Monday, September 8, 2014

News: National Geographic Recommends Stresa For Fall Travel



This was just brought to my attention. Here's Stresa, featured in National Geographic Travel, as one of their Best Fall Trips 2014. They write about visiting in September and October, when crowds start to diminish, and they highlight visiting the Borromean Islands.


Good, basic information; Stresa is blissfully out of the spotlight compared to Lake Como, they say, and I agree that is true. So we keep it our little secret, yes? At least a little while longer. Read what they had to say:   
(   Continued   ... )


Less than 40 miles separates Lake Maggiore from its glitterati-favorite eastern neighbor, Lake Como. Yet Maggiore and its three main Borromean Islands manage to remain blissfully out of the spotlight. “Lago Maggiore is the real deal,” says Kathy McCabe, editor and publisher of the Dream of Italy travel newsletter. “With lovely coastlines, lush Mediterranean vegetation, and the Alps proudly watching all, the lake doesn't disappoint with its beauty. But it can also be delightfully quirky, no more so than on Isola Bella, where Count Vitaliano Borromeo designed his fanciful palace to resemble a ship.” The lake is a popular summer boating playground, but by early fall the tourist traffic dwindles. A slower pace invites quiet walks along the promenade in the lakeside town of Stresa; strolls through the Isola Bella and Isola Madre gardens, where white peacocks roam; and meandering along the cobblestone alleys of tiny Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island), the only Borromean Island with full-time residents. At last count, there were 32.
How to Get Around: The closest airport, Milano Malpensa, is about 30 miles southeast of Stresa, which is on the southwestern shore of Lake Maggiore. From the airport, take the Malpensa Express to Buston Arsizio and transfer to the Domodossola-Milan line to Stresa, where you can use water taxis, private boats, and public ferries to island hop. Purchase a Rover Ticket (available at official ticket agencies such as Tomassucci Travel) for unlimited (single-day) ferry rides between Stresa and the Borromean Islands.
Where to Stay: While it’s not the Isola Bella palazzo, the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromées in Stresa comes pretty close. Opened on the shores of Lake Maggiore in 1863 and renovated in 2010, the opulent, six-floor hotel has 179 rooms (ask for a lake view), an indoor heated pool, and a fine-dining restaurant (gluten-free menu available). Spend at least one night on Isola dei Pescatori.Albergo Verbano, a cheery coral-and-white hotel with 12 simple rooms, stays open through October. Ask for a room with a balcony facing the lake.
Where to Eat: At La Pescheria on Isola Pescatori, ask for a table on the leafy outdoor terrace. Sip wine, watch the boats, and linger over a leisurely seafood lunch, such as gnocchi with shrimp and Genovese pesto or risotto with lake-caught perch.
What to Buy: Paolo Fumagalli collects and restores the wood armoires, chairs, tables, chests, and other furniture he sells in Epoque, his multilevel antique store and workshop in Stresa. However, it's Fumagalli’s smaller, quirkier finds—cast-iron keys and tools, a suit of armor, coffee grinders, and brass spyglass telescopes—that entice curious passersby to step inside and treasure hunt.
What to Read Before You Go: Ernest Hemingway’s World War I classic A Farewell to Arms includes fictionalized versions of Stresa’s Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromées, Isola Pescatori, and other Lake Maggiore locations the author visited at age 19 while recovering from a battlefield injury.
Helpful Tip: Get a bird’s-eye view of Lake Maggiore, the Borromean Islands, the Po Valley, and the Alps by riding the Stresa-Mottarone Cable Car from the Piazzale Lido station up the side of Mount Mottarone. The ride takes 20 minutes (one-way). From the station at the top, walk another 15 minutes or so up to the 4,895-foot summit.
Helpful Links: Italian Tourism and Dream of Italy
Fun Fact: The Borromeo family, for which Lake Maggiore’s Borromean Islands are named, has owned Isola Madre and Isola Bella since the 16th century. Family members continue to spend summers on Isola Bella, staying on the private (and unheated) floors of the 17th-century baroque palace built by their ancestor Count Vitaliano Borromeo.
Staff Tip: After touring the grand Isola Bella palazzo's interior, spend some time strolling through the gardens, where white peacocks roam freely, thousands of roses bloom, and ornate fountains decorate the landscape. It’s a picture-perfect spot for capturing the beauty of the Borromean Islands with the Alps in the background. For a truly local experience, ask Monograms for a local host to show you around the area, and take a water taxi to the quaint fishing village of Isola Pescatori for dinner. Andrea Leitch, producer, Travel Digital

One thing they don't mention in the article is that closing day for the Borromeo properties is usually in the middle of October, so do keep that in mind if planning an October visit.

Here's a link to the website; check out their other autumn travel destination ideas too.


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