Does anyone have suggestions for staying in this lake area for two nights? Should we stay in Stresa and tour from there (we will have a car) or can touring be done by boat?
Look at the website for Hotel Rigoli in Baveno, a few minutes drive beyond Stresa. We stayed in their apartments; but the hotel itself looked very nice, and the restaurant was good. One of the main area attractions is the Borromean Islands, which, of course must be accessed by boat. We drove to Locarno, but I think boat or train are also a possibility.
Marsha , You don't really NEED a car there , but it won't be an impediment ( outside of high season ) . As Rosalyn says , the Borromeo islands , done by lake boat are well worth your time . We stayed at the Hotel Moderno in Stresa and loved it. As a matter of fact I wish we had stayed much longer . Walking on the lakeshore promenade that has some of the most beautiful vistas I've ever seen ,was pure romance for for my wife and myself . Stay there longer if you possibly can . You can also take the boat up to the north of the lake to the town of Cannobio which is also stunning . We didn't get to go there , but a fellow poster here , Roberto , mentioned it in one of his posts , and I looked it up . From the pictures it was obvious how beautiful it is , Whatever you do , you will be charmed by Stresa and the area around it. Also , as you walk north on the promenade look for a place called Daniel's Bar , a cafe on the lakefront. If you are there at dusk when the lanterns are turned on , stop , have a drink or a coffee and just linger there for a while , you'll see what I mean .
Marsha, Staying in Stresa for a few days would certainly be worthwhile, but you won't need a car there. Two days is a bit short, but will allow a brief look at the area. Some of the sightseeing to consider.... > Tour all or some of the beautiful Borromeo Islands. Of the four, Isola Bella is the largest and most ornate, with a large Palace and ornate gardens (complete with Peacocks). > Take the Cable Car and lifts to Mt. Mottarone. There's a small alpine garden that can be toured and if you go all the way to the top, the views are incredible on a clear day. > Take a day trip to Locarno (Switzerland) on the scenic Cento Valli railway, returning in the late afternoon via boat (you'll pass Cernobbio on the way down the lake). While in Locarno you can have a look at the beautiful Madonna del Sasso Franciscan Monastery, visit the Casino, take the Cable Car to Cardada for awesome views of the city and lake (as I recall, there's a small hotel & restaurant with a nice patio right next to the Cable Car station) or just browse the stores. It will be a full day trip! Staying in Stresa would be nice, as you'd be able to sample the local restaurants, walk along the lakeside promenade, etc. Happy travels!
Thanks much for your responses. We will be coming from travel in Switzerland and after our stay at Lake Maggiore we will be heading to Florence. We thought we would return our car in Milan and take the train to Florence but could we take a train right from Stressa? Thoughts?
You could drop the car in Stresa and train down from there . Evidently it would hinge on the location of the rental agency . Also , depending on the time of year you will be there , ( summer - high season ? we were there in late September - early October , rather calm ) there could be more auto traffic . EDIT : keep in mind that starting in Switzerland and dropping in Italy could entail high cross country drop charges . Might be better ( depending where you are coming from in Switzerland ) to drop the car in Brig or Domodossola to avoid those fees '
Thanks for the helpful responses
You will pay extra if you plan to drive your car in Italy. Not worth it. Also, having done this by car, I say TAKE THE TRAI Stresa or Milan to Florence. Traffic can be horrible on their freeway from Milan to Florence and forget about the traffic in Florence (oy) once you get there, not to mention finding parking. The train will drop you near the center of town and there's no stress getting there. Happy travels. Devra