The famous town of Stresa enjoys a splendid location on Lake Maggiore in the Gulf of Borromeo, where it overlooks the eponymous islands, the main attraction in the region. The beautiful countryside, architectural gems and mild climate combine to make Stresa one of the most popular destinations in Italy. The Borromean Islands, with their stunning palaces and ornamental gardens, are an unmissable destination for their pure beauty. Luxury villas and opulent Art Nouveau hotels line the elegant lakeside, which is ideal for a tranquil stroll. Since the late 19th century Stresa has been renowned for its sophisticated atmosphere and genteel visitors, and today still enjoys an impressive roster of cultural and musical events.
Architecture and aristocracy
During the Middle Ages, Stresa was a fiefdom of the lords of Castello and Visconti, but it was the Borromeo family (part of the Milanese aristocracy) who subsequently ruled the region and added the magnificent buildings that have made Stresa famous. In 1441, the Borromeos obtained part of the territory and by 1653 the entire district was reunited under their rule. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, the Borromeos commissioned palaces to be built on the islands of Bella and Madre. Stresa passed into Austrian hands in 1719, before coming under the rule of the House of Savoy in 1748.