Monday, July 13th:
I can't believe it is October and I have yet to finish up blogging about my summer trip to Italy. The way things are going, I hope to finish by Thanksgiving or perhaps even Christmas!
Continuing with my stay in Stresa:
I awoke early Monday morning enjoying this beautiful view out my window. What a wonderful way to start the day.
My plan was to visit Villa Taranto. After puttering around my hotel for a while and enjoying another wonderful breakfast, I walked down to the imbarcadero and bought a boat ticket to Villa Taranto (€ 10.80).
Being a fan of boats, I loved that it took about 45 minutes to get there. The boat pretty much emptied out after making stops at Isola Bella, Isola Pescatori, and Baveno. I think there was only one or two other couples and myself left on the boat at this point.
After leaving Baveno, we headed past Isola Madre, the only one of the three islands that I did not visit during my stay in Stresa. This was one of my favorite photos of Isola Madre.
Next, we headed towards Verbania. As I understand it, Pallanza and Intra both neighborhoods of the the city of Verbania. Villa Taranto is located between these two places. The boat stops in all three places.
I would have loved to have stopped in Pallanza but did not have enough time. Here are a few photos I took as we rode by.
The next stop was the amazing Villa Taranto. I had no idea just how much I would love my visit to these beautiful gardens.
After purchasing my ticket (€ 9.00) and taking a look at the map of the gardens (which I studied a bit on the way there) I started out on the main path. I was very fortunate to meet a lovely older couple from England who travel the world to see rare flowers as I entered the dahlia maze. They shared tons of info with me and pointed out important flowers I might have ignored. I walked with them for about 15 or 20 minutes. I did run into them again a bit later when looking at the most amazing flower that captured my attention. Even they did not know anything about this flower. I also met two girls from Russia and a nice French family during my tour of the gardens.
I took tons of photos during my walk through the gardens. I decided a slide show (album) would work best to give you an idea of the beauty and diversity of the gardens of Villa Taranto.
Marta, I thought of you so many times knowing just how much you would have LOVED seeing all of the incredible flowers at Villa Taranto.
I spent two and a half hours exploring and I would have stayed even longer but my allergies were starting to bother me (being surrounded by so many flowers everywhere). After leaving the Villa, I headed back down to the boat dock. When I arrived, I realized that the next boat was not scheduled to arrive for at least 30 minutes. Instead of sitting around waiting, I walked down to the little boat harbor nearby to take some photos of the boats.
As I walked by the boats in the boat harbor, I decided to keep on going and walked about 30 minutes to the town of Intra. Along the way, I met a nice man who started to speak rapidly in Italian once I spoke a few words of Italian to him. I understood about half of what he was saying. He walked with me as far as the imbacadero, which was nice since I had no idea where I was going.
The imbacadero in Intra was huge! I wanted to find out the boat schedule before exploring the town. Because this imbacadero was so huge, I was a little nervous about figuring out which boat I would need to take to get back to Stresa. The nice man pointed out where I needed to go to purchase a ticket before saying goodbye.
The very kind woman at the ticket counter gave me a schedule and then told me to come back to see her when I was ready to board and she would show me which boat I needed to take to head back to Stresa. I bought a ticket from Intra to Villa Taranto (since I had a round trip ticket to/from Villa Taranto from Stresa) for € 1.90 and thanked the woman.
I loved the town of Intra. There were cool winding streets, fun little shops, an interesting church (which I think was the main church of the town) with a tall tower.
I was really hungry (didn't eat lunch yet) and it was a little late to find places still openn for lunch. My first stop was the Ciao Bella Gelateria. Two thumbs up! Great gelato!!
Then I looked for a little shop that sold food. I wanted to buy some yogurt but the shop didn't have any. The owner of the shop was so nice. He told me that he might be able to find some in the back for me. He ended up bringing out a flavor that I don't really like very much. We started chatting. I told him how much I enjoyed walking around Intra and asked him why it was not more crowded. He said it was not a big tourist town since there are not many hotels in Intra. He told me that most people stay in Pallanza (which seemed to me to be much larger than Intra).
After I left the shop, I stopped in the church and then walked back down towards the boat. I saw some people sitting outside at a little bar along the way. I asked if it was possible to orders some lunch. I hit the jackpot! I ordered a fabulous caprese salad, sat outside, and enjoyed the views of the lake and the boats.
As I headed back to the imbacadero, I took this photo. This is not a photo of the imbacadero. I didn't think to take a photo of all the docks and boats when I was there.
I went back to the ticket counter. The woman smiled when she saw me and pointed out the boat to Stresa. Here is a view of Intra from the boat:
I had a very enjoyable ride back to Stresa. I sat next to a woman from Bergamo who was traveling with a small group. The woman was amazed that I had been to Bergamo and even more amazed that I was in Lucca earlier in the summer. She was going there with some friends in a few weeks. I told her all the places she should see and gave her some restaurant recommendations. She kept laughing thinking that this girl from Hawaii was giving her Italian tourist recommendations.
When we stopped at Isola Madre, we could not believe how many people were waiting to board the boat. I wasn't sure if there would even be enough room on the boat for everyone. I made a note to myself that visiting Isola Madre in the morning is the way to go. There were hardly any people stopping there on the way to Villa Taranto.
My toes were pretty tired after all the walking I did on Monday and I still had to walk up the hill to my hotel and then up 37 steps to the hotel, two steps in and out of the hotel to get my key and then 40 more steps to up to my room in the building next door. It was almost like climbing a mini tower.
That evening I ate at Ristorante il Vicoletto. Because I ate such a late lunch, I was only planning to order a pasta dish. I ordered ravioli with fish and fresh tomatoes. It was fabulous. The bread was also soooo good! Because the food was so good, I could not resist trying a dessert. Most desserts had chocolate, which I can't eat, so I ordered an apple cake. It was good but nothing to rave about. Il Vicoletto is a small restaurant. There were two women working (I think one might have been the owner). Great service. The cost of my meal was € 19. It was a little more expensive, but it was a nice quiet restaurant with great food and service.
When I gave the woman (that I think was the owner) my credit card, she commented about the seal on the card and then realized that I was from Hawaii. She told me that she was thinking of visiting Hawaii and asked me all kinds of questions about flights, time of year to visit, etc. etc. We spoke half in Italian and half in English. She was so nice. She kept apologizing for asking me questions but really, I enjoyed chatting with her.
Next up, photos of some of my favorite flowers at Villa Taranto.
*Edited Wednesday morning: After starting to work on my next post, I realized that I had too many photos, so I added a few of them into the slide show above instead.