It is the "doorway" of Lake Maggiore. Villa Ponti of Arona hosts art shows with works of the greatest maestroes of the world, as well as many events and meetings along the year. This Villa was built on the rampants of the stronghold (Rocca) conceived on around 1760 by Bartolomeo Pertossi, a rich merchant and one of the Napoleon supporters.
It is defined the Lake Verbano's pearl, and it is the most prestigious and renowned tourist center of Lake Maggiore. This small village turned from a rural town in an elegan tourist place, first for patricians and nobles, and then for worldwide guests. During the XII and XIV centuries the ancient village of Stresa has been richened by a castle, whose walls are still visible at the city entrance. After some decades of Austrian domination, Stresa and the whole West bank of Lake Maggiore had been destined to the Savoia family. The Napoleon street dates back to the XIX century, the Sempione tunnel and the railway have been basic elements for the touristic development of Stresa. The reputation of Stresa begun to widespread thanks to the descripion of some eminent travellers as Stendhal, Chateaubriand, Dumas, Lord Byron. Today Stresa hosts conventions, meetings and events of international interest, as well as the celebrated "Stresa and Lake Maggiore music week". Around Stresa it is possible to visit the most beautiful isles of Lake Maggiore: isola Madre, isola Pescatori, isola Bella.
It is the bigger of the Borromeo isles, it springs in the middle of Stresa gulf and introduces itself with a massive Reinassance palace, looked over by one of the most ancient Italian botanic gardens. The palace was built during the XVI century and it has been recently renewed by the Borromeo princess. Inside it is possible to find pieces of art and interiors of age.
Its name comes from Carlo III Borromeo's wife, Isabella. The vast Barroque palace represents a real museum of unique pleasure, original furnishing, pictures and frescoes of XVI-XVII century. The sequence of staircases that compose it is charming, from the Ball room to the throne room, from the weapons room to the Napoleonic room (Napoleone lived here) and to the Music room (seat of the Stresa conference of 1935 among England, France and Italy). Outside it is possible to enjoy the "all'italiana" gardens, arranged on ten terracing, that form a big pyramid.