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therese

Two Weeks in Stresa

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So, almost time for my return visit to Stresa. My last trip there was largely for work, but I so enjoyed the location and the hotel, La Luna nel Porto, that I'm bringing my husband and two children (son 16 and daughter 13) back with me for two long, lazy weeks.

For any of you who may not be familiar with typical U.S. family vacations I'll point out that this is a distinctly uncommon approach: very few Americans vacation for more than one week at a time, and staying in one place for the entire period is considered, well, odd. Stresa is sleepy but not too sleepy, and is well-connected by road, rail, and ferry to locations in northern Italy and Switzerland. The hotel we're using is small and comprised of small apartments with kitchens and ours has a large terrace overlooking the lake. Laundry facilities on site, so no hassle with large amounts of luggage.

We have decided to rent a car, as that will give us easier access to national parks and small towns. We'll still train to Milan and locations directly on the train line as it's so simple.

As far as our catchment area for day trips, I'd like to keep total car time in each direction to under an hour. With that in mind, do any of you have specific recommendations for restaurants or agriturismos in the area that serve meals? Hiking in the area a plus.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Hiking and bike riding is good at the top of Mottarone, which is a small mountain right above Gignese, which is right above stresa. You can take the cable car right from the lake in Stresa, which drops you off at the top of the mountain, really cool, and a must do.

A while back my dad and i rented bikes at the base in Stresa, and you bring them up to the top on the cable car, and ride down, really fun. Ask around if they still do that.

You can also take a day trip into switzerland, with a special boat from the Imbarcadero in stresa (the boat dock). It takes you up the lake into Locarno, eating an optional lunch on the boat (recommended, the food was good!) then you take the Cento Valli train back to Domodossola, and then the regular train back to Stresa. REALLY nice. You go through huge valleys and mountains on the train. Amazing views. Great time. The boat ride take about 1.5 hours, then you can look around the big shopping area in Locarno for a hour or 2, then take the train back, for another hour or so.

It is a nice day trip, and def. worth doing.

You could also drive to Domodossola, which is a bigger town than Stresa, but i'm not really sure what there is to do there:)

Can't really help with restaurants much, we eat at home or at a cousin's small restaurant (nothing to write home about).

jason

PS: i think it is a good idea to book the boat/train a few days ahead, as it was quite busy when we went.


Edited by jmolinari (log)

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...or at a cousin's small restaurant (nothing to write home about).

With two weeks of eating in front of us we don't necessarily need to make every last meal anything all that amazing, so I'd be happy to send a little business your cousin's way if you can recall the name of the restaurant.

Glad to hear that the food on the ferry to Locarno was nice, as so often that sort of thing isn't very, and the idea of dining en route is very nice.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Day 1:

We're here! Arrived yesterday about noon, having rented a car at Malpensa. Nice weather during the afternoon, and husband and I had a light (and entirely undistinguished) lunch at a cafe just opposite the ferry landing, and then picked up sandwiches for the children (who were back at the hotel napping). Stocked up on breakfast stuff at the grocery on via Roma, and slept some more, eventually heading out for dinner at Pappagallo (recommended by the hotel, and chosen by me because it was likely going to start raining and it was close by). Food generally very nice:

Snails (I got a dozen for us all to try, tempted in part by a literary reference that I'll look up when I get the chance---maybe "Il barone rampante"?)

Prosciutto with melon (for me, very good)

Insalata caprese (for husband, reportedly very nice)

Mussels in tomato sauce (for son)

Daughter didn't order a starter, instead just eating most of mine.

Seconds were veal piccata (for husband), fish (for me, can't recall the name at this moment), and pizze margherite for the children.

We skipped dessert in favor of ice cream sundaes at Gigi Bar (coppa Gigi for daughter, affogato in cocoa for son), drinks for husband and self. By this point the rain was coming down in buckets, so we sent my daughter on to the hotel to fetch additional umbrellas. Rained all night, lovely music to sleep by.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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My best Stresa memory: dh and I went to a gelateria as it was getting ready to storm. We bought a bucket of something like 12 scoops (12 DIFFERENT scoops) and ran through the rain back to our hotel room. We sat in the open doorway of the balcony (we were on street level on a traffic-free street), pigging on gelato and watching the sheets of water beat down.


~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

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"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Gigi bar..a classic:) Make sure you get some of their Margheritine di Stresa. Best cookies in the world? Possibly!

No worries there---there was a tray of them waiting in our room (most of them scarfed by my 16 year old son), and my husband got a little dish of them with his prosecco.

I'm presently waiting to buy bread---the closest panificio apparently doesn't open until 8:30, and the kids are still asleep, so I'll head out (again, nice walk this AM) in a few minutes.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Aaack. Darn this laptop---I just sent a nice descriptive post into the ether.

I'll summarize by listing ice cream in Orta San Giulio yesterday afternoon, and dinner at a small place here in town near the train station, Il pesciolino rosso. Very nice.


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I'll save most of the photos until we return, but here's a teaser from our dinner Friday night at Il pesciolino rosso.

gallery_11280_4766_25702.jpg

Any idea what the white stuff might be?


Can you pee in the ocean?

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It is lardo of course! Yum yummy. Did you like it?

It is fatback cured with salt and herbs. Really delicious stuff.

Yep, we all loved it. Great herb flavor, as you mention. Is the herb mixture fairly standard? I couldn't pick out the different flavors, but it was overall very nice.

We took the ferry to Locarno on Saturday as it was our first really nice weather day. Very busy but we were told not to bother booking, not even for lunch (which we wanted to do based on your recommendation, jmolinari). I ended up at the middle of a very small international incident as a result---I'll save the details for later. The food was fine----again, details (with pics) to follow. Train rides home through the Val Vigezza, with a brief stop in Santa Maria Maggiore, and then ice cream cones for husband and the kids at the station in Domodossola.

Dinner at home on the terrace, where we are clearly the envy of passers by on the road below.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Meals coming to quickly to both post them and consume them, but I'll go ahead and describe lunch yesterday (Sunday).

The weather was predicted to be variably cloudy with rain later in the day, and since we'd done some mostly sedentary touring the day before we decided to take a short hike, ending up here about at 2:30 in the afternoon:

gallery_11280_4766_68876.jpg

We were getting a bit hungry, and it was still quite sunny (and steep) so decided to see if we could get something to eat at a hillside restaurant. To our mild surprise the restaurant was absolutely packed, and my original query to the waitress/hostess as to the possibility of dining was along the lines of "no, we're full and besides the kitchen's pretty much closed." I asked if we might just have a drink instead and she answered of course, and showed us to a table in the bar. At this point the entire staff was busy pulling approximately 100 espressos in the space of five minutes, all the while handling payment from various uniformed types (who were all these people? and what was up will all the uniforms?), but as she seated us the waitress suggested that she could probably rustle up something along the lines of cured meats and cheeses.

So eventually our table was set, and drink orders taken, and food showed up.

gallery_11280_4766_107401.jpg

gallery_11280_4766_76906.jpg

More to come, gotta go do something holiday-ish.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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A stormy morning (though the rain held off long enough for me to breakfast on the terrace: tea, cherries, and those groovy breakfast cookies to dip in my tea; children will have bread and Nutella when they finally wake up, and husband will have coffee and bread with butter and apricot jam), so I'll try to at least finish the last post.

Along with the cured meats we were served cheese:

gallery_11280_4766_36888.jpg

Our server decided that we proably didn't have enough food, so offered to go see if she could rustle us up some cold roast meat of some sort, but I said that I didn't think it would be necessary. She cast an eye over the table and suggested onions, some nice pickled onions. Would we like some nice pickled onions? Yes, indeed, we'd love some nice pickled onions (which included cloves in the spice mix---the mauve color depicted is not a fault of the lighting or photography):

gallery_11280_4766_24541.jpg

By this point the restaurant was starting to clear out a bit (but slowly, as every lasta person in the place knew every other person in the place), and an older man took over our service, and as he was also concerned that we might wither up and blow away for lack of nourishment suggested that we have dessert. So we did. Two sorts of cake: chocolate spice cake, and a jam-filled one, both very good, but the photo didn't turn out.

So instead here's a nice picture of the terrace:

gallery_11280_4766_35102.jpg

The restaurant's called Cardini, in case you're in the area. Lovely views, very nice staff, food (to the extent that we sampled it) very good.

Oh, and all those uniformed types? Any idea what they were there for? I'll post a teaser picture for you to figure it out.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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I don't see any uniformed types...?

Ah, yes, I should have been more specific. This photo was taken as we were leaving, after the uniformed types had all left for their afternoon's duties. Had I taken the photo half an hour earlier you'd have seen every last table full. Families, church ladies, old guys, and uniformed types. The uniforms varied, but some included alpine hats and some included day glo reflective trousers. An interesting fashion statement.

I'll go find the teaser now.


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Still none of the uniformed types that filled the restaurant in this picture. Instead these are spectators in search of a good vantage point. We're already in one, perched directly over a hairpin curve in the road. We're joined by picnic-ing families and teenagers.

gallery_11280_4766_23016.jpg


Can you pee in the ocean?

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A rally race?

Exactly. Very cool for us all, and entirely unsuspected. The (I think) 43rd Rally Val d'Ossola. It started raining cats and dogs part-way through the race, but fortunately the staff were well-fed and not the least bit pissy about all the spectators walking all over the road.

Husband and kids took the funivia to Mottarone today, riding down with bikes. Dinner at home on the terrace: melon with prosciutto, farfalle with sauce from a jar (described as Sicilian pesto, with nuts and ricotta), sardines with carrot salad, fruit and yogurt for dessert.

Dancing tonight in Arona, at a club that's a boat. Shades of "Roman Holiday."


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