The pretty, bustling town of Stresa is just three miles away from the house. Hemingway once wrote to his parents: ‘I’m up here at Stresa, a little resort on Lake Maggiore, one of the most beautiful of the Italian Lakes’. It would be hard to disagree with him. Lake Maggiore has a romance to it that some of the other lakes just don’t have. It is said that the translucent quality of Lake Maggiore’s water is from the teardrops of unrequited lovers and romantic poets. Much loved by Byron and Shelley, a temperate microclimate made this region a preferred hideaway for 19th century aristocrats who built palatial villas with landscaped gardens on its pristine shoreline and rolling hills.
Palm-lined esplanades are decorated with magnolia and overlook the Borromean Islands, always enticing visitors and easily reached by a scenic boat trip from the lakeside. Isola Bella dominates these small, verdant retreats, and houses a magnificent palazzo surrounded by lush gardens with fountains, peacocks, classical statues and secret grottos.
As Stresa’s reputation grew throughout the 1900s, noblemen from Milan began to come to Stresa and build magnificent villas, and the rich and famous began to visit Stresa. Some of the most well known guests over the years have included George Bernard Shaw, Rockefeller, Hemingway, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin and Princess Margaret. Such was Stresa’s reputation as a top class resort for well to do Italians in the first half of the twentieth century, that the first ever Miss Italia competition was held here in 1946.
Nowadays, Stresa is a very popular destination for visitors from all over the globe, including for the many cultural events taking place here. The modern Congress Palace hosts many international conferences, an annual cinema festival, the Stresa ‘Musical Weeks’ throughout the Summer and many other concerts and events. Stresa is also home to the internationally renowned Hotel School “Istituto Professionale Alberghiero E. Maggia”.
The beautiful grand hotels and villas along the palm lined esplanades are extremely popular for lavish Italian weddings. In the summer it’s wonderful to go and have a drink in one of the hotel gardens and watch the wedding festivities around you. It’s not unusual to see three separate weddings taking place at the same time at neighbouring lakeside hotels, all looking worthy of glamorous photo shoots in Hello magazine!