The origins of Stresa are very old. For many centuries it was just a fishermen's village, but at Napoleon's time there were already several villas in this area, all belonging to aristocrats.
More villas were built in the second half of the 19th century, by tycoons of the Milan area, after Stresa ceased to be "abroad" for the people of Lombardy. In fact, Piedmont and Lombardy belonged for a long time to two different kingdoms.
A substancial increase in tourism was caused by the railway, after a new tunnel in the Alps made it easier to get to Italy from the north. At that time some of the grandest hotels of Stresa were built.
The Margheritine di Stresa (Stresa daisies) are delicious cookies that were created in this town in the 19th Century, by Mr Pietro Antonio Bolongaro, who named his creation after Margherita, daughter of the Duke of Genoa, who used to spend long holidays in Stresa, in a villa that is still called Villa Ducale.
It’s interesting that later on, when she became Queen of Italy, Margherita had also a pizza named after her.
If you want to taste the “margheritine” I recommend to buy them at the Pasticceria Marcolini, in Via de Vit.
If you want the recipe, write me an email.
- Food and Dining
Some more history
Have you ever heard of the Stresa Conference, or of the Stresa Front?
It's something dating back to 1935. In March Adolf Htler had declared publicly that Germany was going to rearm, so in April, from the 11th to the 14th, representatives from Italy, France and Great Britain met in Stresa, to agree on their future cooperation in peace-keeping, and especially to protect Austria from Germany's threats. This alliance was called "The Stresa Front". However, it took just a few months to show it was all talk and no substance: on June 18th Britain signed a naval treaty with Germany, allowing this country to build more war ships. The other partners were incensed by this unilateral move, and in October Itay invaded Abyssinia.
The meeting took place in the Borromeo Palace on the Isola Bella, more precisely in the Music Room. If you happen to visit the place, it is interesting to know some of the things that happened here.
- Historical Travel
Italian laws state that civil weddings can be celebrated only in the town hall, or another building chosen by the municipality specifically for the celebration of weddings. In Stresa, the Town Hall is not a very interesting or romantinc building, as you can see from the picture.
In 2004, a wedding involving famous people was celebrated on the Isola dei Pescatori. It was possible because the bride was Lavinia Borromeo, of the family that still owns the islands of Lago Maggiore. That famous wedding caused a great demand for a romantic setting for weddings, so the municipality of Stresa designated a certain building on the Isola dei Pescatori to be used for that purpose. However, only those who are resident on the island can have their wedding there for free. Residents of Stresa have to pay EUR 500 for the privilege, and non-residents EUR 1000.
This is usual political lampoon which can be seen all over the northern part of Italy. So-called "Lega Nord" (Northern League) is against everything and everybody. Perhaps they have right in most of their complains, but since they are extremely radicals, they very often act in unapropriate way. However, they sense of humour is not bad at all.
- Family Travel