Stresa is an Italian town of 4 607 inhabitants in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in Piedmont. Thanks to its position on the west coast of the Borromean Gulf, opposite the homonymous islands, part of the municipal territory, and to the elegant lakefront hosting luxurious hotels and historic homes, Stresa is a famous lake tourist resort and is one of the most visited places in the whole Piedmontese territory.


Physical geography


The territory of Stresa is divided into four parts: it is partly coastal, partly insular, partly hilly and partly mountainous. The coastal part, overlooking Lake Maggiore, includes the historic core of Stresa and the hamlet of Carciano; the insular part includes three of the four Borromean Islands (Madre, Bella, Pescatori); the hilly part includes a series of hamlets dominating Lake Maggiore (Levo, Binda, Campino, Passera, Someraro, Vedasco, Brisino and Magognino); the mountain part includes the popular ski resort of Mottarone, the mountain pastures below the eastern side of the mountain and the Alpinia botanical garden.


Origins of the name

Stresa's name appeared for the first time written on a sale paper dated January 15th of the year 998 as "STRIXSYA".

In other later cards it is "STREXIA", later "STREXA", then "STRESIA" and finally "STRESA" which remained constant.

Its name derives from the extension of its "bottom" in length like a stripe and derives from the ancient Teutonic or Lombard "STRICH" which, applied in place names, means a rather extended line of land.

The etymology is uncertain. Olivieri thinks of a Latin form (not attested) * stratensis from strāta, "paved road", or, alternatively, from lastresa, in turn from slab. With all likelihood, a Lombard derivation is paretymological.


How to orient yourself

The municipal territory includes the following islands:
1 Isola Bella — In 1670 Count Vitaliano Borromeo began the construction of the monumental Baroque palace and the majestic scenography of the gardens which gave fame to the island and which still today document the splendours of an era. The Borromeo residence contains priceless works of art: tapestries, furniture and paintings. The gardens, rich in every variety of rare plants and flowers, develop in ornate and overlapping terraces, and are a classic, inimitable example of an "Italian garden" of the time.
2 Isola Madre — It is the largest of the Borromean islands and the most characteristic for its intimate, silent, enchanted atmosphere: a garden of rare plants and exotic flowers in which white peacocks, parrots and pheasants of every variety, which create the charm of a tropical land. Isola Madre is particularly famous for the flowering of azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. In 1978 the 16th century palace was opened to visitors, interesting for the reconstruction of period rooms and for the collections of liveries, dolls and porcelain. The exhibition of the "Marionette Theaters" of the '700/'800 is exceptional.
3 Isola dei Pescatori — Isola dei Pescatori owes its name to the peculiar activity of its inhabitants. The charm of this island is due to the archaic simplicity and rustic candor of its houses and the narrow streets that cross it. The restaurants that offer the opportunity to taste the fish from the lake are excellent.


Monuments and places of interest

Civil architectures

Bolongaro Palace, dating back to the end of the 18th century, also known as Villa Ducale, seat of the International Center for Rosminian Studies.
Palazzo Borromeo (Isola Bella)
Villa Pallavicino
Pre-Romanesque stelae: in Levo, a hamlet of Stresa - in 1877, during the construction of a building some tombs with clay-ornamental equipment and five tombstones in Lepontius-Ligurian and Latin characters were found. Three of these steles, dated to the 1st century BC, can be admired in the oratory of SS. Giacomo and Filippo where a plaque tells the story of this temple. The building, a national monument since 1909, was restored in 1944.
Villa Castello Minola in the hamlet of Vedasco.
Villa Castelli, historic villa on the lakefront.


Religious architectures

Church of Saints Ambrogio and Theodulo, built in 1790 by the neoclassical architect Giuseppe Zanoja.
Rosmini College, built in the second half of the nineteenth century. The neoclassical church of S. Crucifix houses the tombs of the philosopher and theologian Antonio Rosmini and the poet Clemente Rebora. The Monument to Antonio Rosmini, carved in life-size white marble, representing the theologian kneeling in prayer while reflecting on the Holy Scriptures that he holds in his right hand, is a masterpiece by the famous realist sculptor Vincenzo Vela.



International Center for Rosminian Studies

Since 1966 Stresa has hosted the International Center for Rosminian Studies, located inside the Palazzo Bolongaro. The Centre, wanted especially by Federico Sciacca, offers visitors a cultural, historical and artistic heritage linked to the person of Antonio Rosmini. The Centre, recognized by Decree of the President of the Republic of 31 January 1968, promotes various cultural initiatives and organized meetings. It includes courses known as "Rosminian Symposia" and scholarships.

The Director of the Center is Father Umberto Muratore, IC, a scholar of Rosminian thought and author of several works.


Musical weeks of Stresa and Lake Maggiore

The Stresa Music Weeks were born in 1961 on the initiative of Italo Trentinaglia de Daverio, a noble Venetian lawyer, driven to get involved in music, not by personal interests, but because he had always lived in contact with music: his father Erardo was in fact musical organizer, general manager of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, superintendent of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and composer. The Trentinaglia family owned a villa in Stresa, where musicians and authors often convened, including Arturo Toscanini, Umberto Giordano and Gianandrea Gavazzeni, all attracted by the natural beauty of Lake Maggiore.

During a stay in this villa in the autumn of 1961, Italo Trentinaglia developed the idea of creating an annual event which could make Stresa the venue for one of those international classical music festivals which made some of the the most beautiful places in Europe.

On 27 August 1962 the Stresa Musical Weeks were inaugurated by a concert by the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra, directed by Nino Sanzogno; in the following editions many of the most important musicians in the world took part in the event.

In the history of the Music Weeks, the review of the young winners of the competition presented artists who today are famous concert players, such as Michele Campanella, Garrick Ohlsson, Christoph Eschenbach, Murray Perrahia, Jeffrey Swann, up to the more recent Andrea Lucchesini, Maurizio Zanini and Nikolaj Znaider.

After its beginnings at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Stresa, on Isola Bella in the Salone degli Arazzi and at the Loggia del Cashmere in the gardens of Isola Madre, the Festival then progressively broadened its horizons, bringing its concerts to new historical venues and allowing thus to combine music with art and with the sceneries of the place.

Since 1999 the Festival has taken on the new denomination of "Musical Weeks of Stresa and Lake Maggiore"; among the places involved, the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso di Leggiuno, in the province of Varese, where every year, for the prologue of the Festival, the Suites for cello solo by Johann Sebastian Bach are performed. New concert venues are also the Auditorium "La Fabbrica" in Villadossola, the Castello Visconteo in Vogogna, the Rocca Borromea in Angera, Villa Ponti in Arona, Villa San Remigio and the Church of Madonna di Campagna in Verbania, the Old Church in Belgirate and the Basilica of San Giulio in Orta. From 1999 to 2001, the provost church of SS. Giacomo and Filippo di Laveno, with its prestigious Eugenio Biroldi organ.

The Stresa Music Weeks are part of the European Festival Association.


More events

Since 2008 Stresa has replaced Biella in hosting the National Choral Singing and Choral Composition and Elaboration Competition
Stresa Prize for Fiction
Literary festival "Stresa, an aperitif with ..." during the month of June
Premio Giallostresa in collaboration with Giallo Mondadori, since 2015 it has changed its name to Gialli sui Laghi
Midsummer Jazz Concerts

Miss Italy
Stresa, between 1946 and 1949, was the first location where the finals of the Miss Italy beauty contest were held, subsequently the contest returned to Stresa only in 1958. The Miss Italy elected were:
1946 - Rossana Martini (1926-1988)
1947 - Lucia Bose (1931)
1948 - Fulvia Franco (1931-1988)
1949 - Mariella Giampieri (1928)
1958 - Paola Falchi (1936)


Getting here

By plane
Stresa is located 45 km from Milan Malpensa (IATA: MXP), 110 km from Milan Linate (IATA: LIN) and 130 km from Milan Bergamo (IATA: BGY). From Milan Malpensa you can reach Stresa by first taking the bus to Gallarate or Busto Arsizio station and then from here the train to Stresa.

By car
Follow the directions for the A26 Genova - Gravellona Toce motorway. Take the A26 motorway towards Gravellona Toce. Keep in the direction of Gravellona Toce until the Carpugnino exit. At Carpugnino follow the signs for Stresa.

From Milan by car: Take the A8 towards Laghi-SestoCalende-Varese. Take the A26 towards Gravellona Toce. The closest exit to Stresa is Carpugnino (panoramic road) while the simplest exit is Baveno-Stresa (about 5 km long).

On the train
Station on the Domodossola-Milan and Domodossola-Novara lines.

By bus
By bus: From April to September, take the Alibus shuttle to Stresa. The service has fixed times (6 trips a day) and must be booked.

From Bergamo-Orio al Serio to Stresa
From Milan-Linate to Stresa
Then take the shuttle to Milano Centrale and continue by train.


Where to eat

Average prices
La Botte Restaurant, Via Mazzini, 6, ☎ +39 0323 30462.
Osteria Mercato, Piazza Capucci, 9, ☎ +39 0323 346245.
La Piemontese Restaurant, Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 25, ☎ +39 0323 30235.
Il Clandestino, Via Antonio Rosmini, 5, ☎ +39 0323 30399.


Where stay

Modest prices
La Locanda, ☎ +39 0323 31176, fax: +39 0323 31176. 2-star hotel.
Elena, ☎ +39 0323 31043, fax: +39 0323 33339. 1 star hotel.
La Sacca**, ☎ +39 0323 31165, fax: +39 0323 33575. 2-star hotel.
San Giacomo, ☎ +39 0323 31150, fax: +39 0323 30140. 2-star hotel.
Villa Maurice Residence, ☎ +39 0323 32741, fax: +39 0323 33458. 2 star hotel.

Average prices
Italie et Suisse, ☎ +39 0323 30540, fax: +39 0323 32621. 3-star hotel.
Belvedere, ☎ +39 0323 32292. 3-star hotel.
La luna nel porto residence, ☎ +39 0323 934466, fax: +39 0323 934604. 3-star hotel.
Royal, ☎ +39 0323 32777, fax: +39 0323 33633. 3-star hotel.
La Fontana, ☎ +39 0323 32707, fax: +39 0323 32708. 3-star hotel.
Du Parc, ☎ +39 0323 30335, fax: +39 0323 33596. 3-star hotel.
Hotel Della Torre, Via Sempione Nord, 45, ☎ +39 0323 32555, Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 11am. Three-star hotel with swimming pool and restaurant a few meters from the embarkations for the Borromean islands.
Hotel Boston (Hotel Boston Stresa), Viale Duchessa di Genova, 13, ☎ +39 0323 30533, fax: +39 0323 33597, 3 star hotel.

High prices
Des îles borromées, ☎ +39 0323 938938, fax: +39 0323 32405. 5-star luxury hotel.
La Palma, ☎ +39 0323 32401, fax: +39 0323 933930. 4-star hotel.
Villa e palazzo Aminta, ☎ +39 0323 933818, fax: +39 0323 933955. 5-star luxury hotel.
Hotel Milan Speranza Au Lac****, ☎ +39 0323 31178, fax: +39 0323 32729. 4-star hotel.
Grand Hotel Bristol, ☎ +39 0323 32601, fax: +39 0323 33622. 4-star hotel.
Regina Palace, ☎ +39 0323 936936, fax: +39 0323 936666. 4-star hotel.



In the middle of the 19th century, Stresa was connected to the shipping traffic on Lake Maggiore, whereas in Stendhal's time you still had to embark in Sesto Calende or in Arona to get to the Borromean Islands. The unification of Italy that began in 1859 also boosted tourism. In 1859 the inn "Della Speranza" was built near the landing stage, followed in 1863 by the luxurious "Grand Hotel des Iles Borromées". Today, the town has numerous accommodation options, from bed & breakfasts to luxury hotels, as well as shopping facilities, restaurants and cafés.

In 1906, after the completion of the Simplon railway tunnel, the first trains connecting Paris with Milan stopped in Stresa. With the Simplon Express there were connections from Calais to Venice and Trieste. From 1919 Stresa was a stop on the Simplon-Orient-Express, with direct connections to Paris and Calais (with connections to Dover and London) on the one hand, and Venice, Belgrade, Bucharest, Athens and Constantinople on the other.

In the immediate vicinity of Stresa is the Villa Pallavicino, which Ruggero Bonghi had built in 1855 in a classicist style and which was acquired in 1862 by the Pallavicino noble family from Genoa. It is located in a 16-hectare park with a small zoo that is open to the public. In 2021 it was sold to Prince Vitaliano Borromeo, who also owns the Borromean Islands with Isola Bella. Several passenger ships operate between Stresa, other towns on the shores of Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands.

Monte Mottarone is used for winter sports. In summer, a road leads far up where there is a wide view. It can also be reached from the northern outskirts with the "Funivia Stresa-Alpino-Mottarone" cable car. At the Alpino middle station (803 m) is the "Giardino botanico Alpinia", an alpine botanical garden established in 1934 with an area of approx. 4 hectares. On May 23, 2021, a gondola of the cable car crashed after the traction cable snapped. 14 people died in the accident.


Conferences in Stresa

At the conference in Stresa from April 11 to 14, 1935, the heads of government of France, Great Britain and Italy agreed on measures to ward off the suspected German expansionist and war policy and joined forces to form the Stresa Front. However, the front broke up after just a few months when Great Britain concluded the German-British Naval Agreement with the German Reich on June 18, 1935.

The "Stresa Convention" of June 1, 1951 marks the first international agreement on the designation of origin in cheese names. Seven countries took part: Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

In July 1958 another “Stresa Conference” took place. At that time, the member states of the European Economic Community (EEC) agreed to create individual product-related market organizations in order to create a stable agricultural market. This later gave rise to the Common Agricultural Policy. Starting in the 1960s, 22 market organizations have emerged to date, each of which regulates the market for individual agricultural products.

In 2004 Stresa was the location of the 52nd Bilderberg Conference, the anniversary meeting "50 Years of Bilderbergers".


In Roman times, the Via Severiana Augusta passed through Stresa, a Roman consular road that connected Mediolanum (modern Milan) with Verbannus Lacus (Lake Verbano, or Lake Maggiore, and from here to the Simplon pass (lat.Summo Plano ).

The first historical source that mentions the existence of Stresa is a parchment of 998, in which the place is called Strixia, a form confirmed by a source of 1249; in 1220 it appears as Strexia. In this locality, in 1935, a political and military agreement was established between Italy, France and the United Kingdom, known as the Stresa Front. From 3 to 6 June 2004 this city hosted the 52nd meeting of the Bilderberg Group.

In 1927 the former municipalities of Chignolo Verbano, Brisino and in 1928 Magognino became part of the municipality.


Typical cuisine and products

Daisies are the typical sweets of Stresa which were created in 1857 by the pastry chef Piero Antonio Bolongaro as a tribute to the then princess Margherita of Savoy, future first queen of Italy, who lived in the Villa Ducale of Stresa, to celebrate her First Communion .
La Toma del Mottarone, typical cheese produced with the milk of cows that graze on Mottarone, the mountain of Stresa

Books set in Stresa (even partially)
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Rubè, by Giuseppe Antonio Borgese
The bishop's room, by Piero Chiara


Movies set in Stresa

The repeater winks at the principal (1980)
Grand Hotel Excelsior (1982)



The main football team of the city is Stresa Vergante: founded in 1906 with the name of Stresa Sportiva, it originally adopted the social colors white and blue and achieved the greatest results in its history by participating in the Promotion 1920-1921 (at the time second division of Italian football, played on a regional basis) and in Serie D 2018-2019. In 2022, following a merger with Lesa Vergante (pure youth sector club based in the neighboring municipality, born in 2010 and characterized by black-green colors) it changed its name and adopted the green-blue social colors: with this new identity it made its debut in Serie D 2022-2023.

The alpine coaster facility on the Mottarone slope is a bobsled/sledge anchored to a monorail, developed for a length of 1200 m and a vertical drop of 100 metres.