You cannot ignore the Alps – when you visit Turin, they are always on the horizon, so just head north and make for Lake Maggiore and the town of Stresa. You will not see Roman remains or a medieval centro storico here; that is not what Stresa is all about. What you will find are the grand hotels of the Belle Époque that evoke a feeling of a time when the pace of life was slower and more sophisticated. In the temperate microclimate, guaranteed by the glacial lake, you can enjoy the beautiful palazzi built by the super rich of the time such as Villa Pallavicino.
Take the time to enjoy a ride on the Stresa–Mottarone cable car. At nearly 1500 metres above sea level, the views from the summit are fabulous and if gardening is your thing be sure to stop off at Alpino and visit the Alpinia botanical gardens that are high above Stresa at an altitude of 800 metres. The gardens display a vast and varied collection of almost a thousand species of plants and their altitude and position provide the perfect climate for alpine and subalpine species. The Alpinia’s wonderful location and panoramic balcony also offer visitors the chance to enjoy a stunning view of the Alps and the waters of Lake Maggiore.
In the waters opposite Stresa lie the three Borromean Islands. Each is very different – Isola Bella with its luxurious palace is the epitome of elegance, whereas Isola Madre is almost totally given over to lush gardens and then, by way of total contrast, the third, Isola dei Pescatori, has been left as its name suggests, unchanged, the Isle of the Fishermen.