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Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Thousand Years... And Counting...

Have you noticed these signs on all roads as you enter into Stresa? 998 to 1998; one thousand years! (Actually 2018 will make it 1,020; we're working on that second millennium now.) And not only 1,000 years of history, but 1,000 years of hospitality.

Not too much remains of the early history of Stresa. The name first appeared in a document in the year 998. Tourism started to take off in the early 1900s, and since then Stresa has been visited by royalty, aristocrats, politicians, artists, celebrities, and millions of people like you and I.

Here are some bits of historic information:
  • Stresa's ancient name was Strixia, a latin term meaning "a narrow strip of land." At that time the fishing village was reachable on land by an old Roman road. Perhaps the name referred to the narrow strip of flat land that was the village, nestled between mountains and lake. In local dialect, Stresa is pronounced "Strecia," which means a narrow strip or passage.

  • In the 1400s Stresa was a divided city. Where now there is the road via Roma there once was a narrow river, the Cree. On one side of the Cree Stresa was owned by the Visconti family, while on the other side all was owned by the Borromeo family, who were soon to transform the three islands in the lake and take full ownership of Stresa.

  • The creation of the Simplon Pass through the Alps in the early 1800s, then the Simplon train tunnel, opened in 1906, opened up Stresa to travel from northern Europe, starting a tourism "boom."

  • In spite of the increases in visitors, Stresa's first boat dock wasn't built until 1860. Before that, boat passengers were ferried out to the boats in rowboats.

  • In 1935, the "Stresa Front" meetings between the U.K., Italy, and France were held in Stresa, in a futile attempt to combat and contain Nazi Germany.
The round sign below does not mean no trumpets, sadly; it does mean no honking of car horns. And the Comune Fiorito yellow sign below is in reference to Stresa's several wins as a "Floral City of Italy."

Stresa may be a tiny town, but it has fit a lot of history into those 1,000 years. Come and visit, and make some history here yourself!



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