Stresa is the 19th century Grand Tour destination par excellence, when wealthy foreigners chose the location as a first taste of beautiful Italy. Colourful flower-filled gardens, gorgeous views, timeless villas, good food and friendliness together with the climate remain Stresa’s appeal for discerning travellers.
The name of Stresa appeared for the first time written on a sales card dated January 15 in the year 998 as “STRIXSYA” and the same year a historical parchment bore the name Strixia, later it became Strexia and only much later the more familiar Stresa.
The Comune, or municipal township and its territory are divided into four areas, partly coastal, partly insular, partly hilly and partly mountainous.
The coastal part overlooks Lake Maggiore, with its charming town centre, and the hamlet of Carciano, the insular part includes three of the four Borromean Islands (Madre, Bella, Pescatori).
The hills include a series of picturesque little villages and hamlets high above Lake Maggiore (Levo, Binda, Campino, Passera, Someraro, Vedasco, Brisino and Magognino). The mountain part includes the popular local ski resort of Mottarone, the mountain pastures and the Alpinia botanical garden.
The cable car connection goes up to the peak, 1491 metres above sea level, with its ski-lifts.
Music weeks in Stresa
Stresa’s music weeks go back to 1961 thanks to Italo Trentinaglia de Daverio, a lawyer of noble birth from Venice, who had always lived in close contact with music.
His father, Erardo, had made a career of music and was Director General of the famous Milan theatre La Scala, superintendent of theVenice’s Fenice and also a composer. The Trentinaglia family owned a villa in Stresa where illustrious musicians and writers often met, among whom Arturo Toscanini, Umberto Giordano and Gianandrea Gavazzeni, all attracted by the natural beauties of Lake Maggiore.
During one of his stays in the family villa, in the autumn of 1961, Italo Trentinaglia decided to create an annual event, one which would make Stresa the seat of an international classical music festival such as those which have made several of Europe’s most beautiful locations even more famous.
On 27 August 1962 Stresa’s Musical weeks were inaugurated with a concert performed by the Orchestra of the Theatre La Scala, directed by Nino Sanzogno; some of the world’s most famous musicians have performed in following editions of the event.
The young winners of the musical competition, held during the Musical Weeks, have gone one to become world famous concert performers, such as Michele Campanella, Garrick Ohlsson, Christoph Eschenbach, Murray Perrahia, Jeffrey Swann, and more recently Andrea Lucchesini, Maurizio Zanini and Nikolaj Znaider.
The Stresa Music Weeks are part of the European Association of Festivals.