Train Holiday Memoirs – A Planet Rail Customer’s Account of their Train Holiday to Switzerland & Italy by Rail Part 15

October 9, 2014

When we looked at our grand old hotel on the lake Maggiore front yesterday I said to Mel that I wanted the room on the top floor on the right hand corner.

It just looked such a perfect room… so imagine my surprise when we opened the door and it was that very one.  Two little balconies and a table on one of them and a perfect view of the lake. Magical.

Room with a view – Hotel Regina Palace, Stresa

I didn’t want to move but then we never let the grass grow under our feet and the rain had stopped so we took a little boat on the lake to Villa Taranto.  A famous garden designed by a Scotsman, it is on the list of the best gardens in Italy and it did not disappoint.

We only had an hour and a half before the boat back and had to rush round but we saw it all and it is absolutely amazing.

Villa Toranto, Lake Maggiore

Villa Toranto, Lake Maggiore

Villa Toranto, Lake Maggiore

Villa Toranto, Lake Maggiore

We went for tea at the little cafe after our visit as we had a short 15 mins to spare.  Amazingly, they waited until we had thought about what we wanted, and asked, before saying very rudely they were closed.

We were miffed but all was well when we got on the boat (there were only six others aboard ) and the bar was open!

So we enjoyed a beer and a bag of crisps and told them where they could put their tea!

Stresa seems to have been emptied of people and is very very quiet.

This is particularly obvious after the hustle and bustle of the rest of Italy.  It has a faded glory about it and our hotel is definitely one of the grandest we have stayed in.  It is all sweeping curtains, ornate decoration and silver teapots.

There is a dairy conference on at the moment so the hotel itself is busy.

There are many ruined villas in the area which leads me to think Stresa had had its day.

Some of them are so beautiful and in an odd way maybe more so in their ruination.  The two next to the hotel are prime examples.

Derelict villa – Stresa

Derelict villa – Stresa

I also had forgotten that Hemingway set part of one of my favourite books, Farewell to Arms here in Stresa.

Our meal last night was very good but eaten in a quiet, stuffy restaurant and I missed the liveliness of previous nights.

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