Day 7: Turin to Stressa to Milan
Milan Travel Blog› entry 7 of 11 › view all entries
"Mama Mia, that's a spicy meatball!" -- Woody (on our group) after seeing Lake Maggorie.
Our first stop, after leaving Turin, is the town of Stressa on the beautiful shores of Lake Maggorie. This the famous Lakes region of Alpine Italy that is famous the world over. Lake Como, the largest lake in Europe, is close by. It is here that George Clooney has a summer home and Benito Mussolini was executed on the shoreline as he tried to sneak into Switzerland.
Stressa is a beautiful little town. It's bustling during the summer months with tourists and shuts down completely during the cold winters. Winston Churchill honeymooned here and Ernest Hemingway recovered in a hotel after serving as an ambulence driver in WWI (Stressa is the setting of his novel "A Farewell to Arms").
We take a 15-minute ferry ride to Isola Bella, a small, private island in the middle of the lake. The island was once the private residence of the Bormeo family, wealthy Italians who hosted the likes of Napolean Bonaparte on long weekends. The palace is lovely. It's full of big, charming rooms all with a lakeside setting and sweeping views. The palace, by the way, was also the setting of the Stressa Treaty signing, a 1935 accord signed by Mussolini pledging to unite with France and England to stop Germany's aggression. A few months later Mussolini invaded Ethiopia and pretty much sided with the Germans for the rest of the war making the treaty ineffective, but he would get his comeupance later. Downstairs there is a grotto made entirely (floor to ceiling) out of shell and rock mosaics.
From Stressa we drive straight through to Milan where we have a late afternoon appointment to see da Vinci's Last Supper. Seeing the Last Supper takes a bit of effort. You have to have an appointment to do so (only 25 people can be in the room at one time) and appointments should ideally be booked at least a month out. Luckily for us, our tour group as set it up for us. Prior to coming here, I always assumed the Last Supper was a painting, but it's actually a fresco painted along the wall of a monestary dining hall.
After our tour, we checked into our hotel for the evening (and watched the Euro Cup final). Tomorrow there will be more time to explore Milan.