The little town of Stresa overlooks Lake Maggiore in a rather charming position near the gulf home to the scenic Borromean Islands of Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori (Bella Island, Madre Island and Pescatori Island). This peculiarity along with a mild climate and harmoniously-combined scenic and architectural beauties attract thousands of tourists every year, making this town one of the most popular Italian tourist destinations since the second half of the 1900’s.
Numerous events enlivening the city’s bubbly cultural and musical life include Stresa Festival (formerly Settimane Musicali di Stresa e del Lago Maggiore).
The lakeside promenade is ideal for relaxing strolls and is flanked by historic homes and luxurious hotels in Liberty style, all surrounded by nature. Popular, thriving, lively meeting places in Stresa include the square at the landing stage and Piazza Marconi.
The first reference to Stresa appears on a parchment from 998. It refers to the town under the name of Strixia, a term of probable Lombard origin meaning little strip of land. In the 15th century, the little village was mostly inhabited by fishermen and was a fief under the Visconti family and later acquired by the Borromeo family. Starting in the 1900’s, the little town was chosen as a stop on the Grand Tour by several intellectuals including Lord Byron, Stendhal and Charles Dickens.
The neoclassical Parish Church of Sant’Ambrogio and its 18th-century canvases are in the old town centre. Standing out to the right is well-known Villa Ducale dating back to the end of the 18th century and built in the same style. Not far from there is Palazzo dei Congressi. This modern well-equipped convention centre is the seat of the cited music festival. This important event on the European classical music scene includes performances by world-renowned artists and bands.
Exclusive houses include 19th-century Villa Pallavicino and its well-known park, which was transformed into a zoological park in the 1950’s to attract young and old alike.