A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Very few times have I visited a town and felt like I was in a fairy tale. Stresa is one of those towns; I visited Stresa during my recent trip to Italy. I have to confess I actually never heard of this place before, and the only reason I happen to come to this mystical place is because I was traveling with some of my Italian friends!
Getting to Stresa was not an easy task, I had to change trains a couple of times. My train then made an unscheduled stop at a station named Novara and it was announced that the train would go no further! After spending about 3 hours at the station the railway people arranged a bus to get to Stresa. Finally after a total delay of about 5 hours I reached Stresa, and it was truly worth the wait!
This was a place which was straight out of fairytale books. Situated in the vicinity of Lago Maggiore, surrounded by the Italian Alps and being covered by a misty blanket of clouds, I had to often pinch myself to convince that I am indeed in this wonderful town! The presence of Lago Maggiore is perhaps the best factor that this town has to offer.
The jewels of Lake Maggiore are the Borromean Islands, and this can be accessed by taking a ferry which travels back and forth quite frequently. The Borromean islands are Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori. Among these Isola Bella and Isola Madre has some really fantastic gardens to offer and I found out that some of the previous visitors to these islands included none other than Napoleon Bonaparte himself! The next island was Isola dei Pescatori, which has some truly delightful cobbled streets and a promenade that encircles it, to relax with refreshments at one of the restaurants.
Another reason why I was really impressed by Stresa was because this town was among the preferred towns of one of my favorite authors Ernest Hemigway. He even based one of his more popular books named Farewell to Arms in this characteristic town.
One thing I missed out on while at Stresa was take a trip on the Mottarone cable car. This is however recommended highly! This was a 20-minute ride to one of the most stunning views in Italy. From the very top one can apparently get a 360-degree view. The sight from here includes the magnificent Po Valley to the Alps, with the astonishing sight of seven blue lakes (Maggiore, Orta, Mergozzo, Varese, Comabbio, Monate and Biandronno) !
Stresa offers a Swiss Alps style experience, if not better, at a fraction of the cost! I thought that it was rather unfair that a town such as Stresa is not known by a lot of people. In Northern Italy it is mostly places such as Como, Cinque Terre and Torino which manage to steal the spotlight. However Stresa is one place which anyone should visit if they want to get a great taste of Italy. There are very cheap flights to Milan from Eindhoven which makes this town easily accessible for anyone from Leiden!