Typical old fishing village
15 August, San Vittore (patron saint of the island)
7 December, Sant’Ambrogio (patron saint of Stresa)
Friday (Stresa market)
THE VILLAGE: CHEST OF CULTURE, TRADITIONS AND NATURE
100 metres wide by 350 metres long, Isola Superiore, better known as "dei Pescatori" (Fishermen's Island), is the only one of the Borromeo archipelago in Lake Maggiore to be permanently inhabited. No more than twenty people in all and a typical profession handed down from generation to generation, that of fishing. From the first glance from the shore, the island looks like a picture-postcard village suspended over the water. Once disembarked, you can explore the spectacular maze of cobbled alleyways, along which you move strictly on foot and admire the characteristic colourful multi-storey houses with long balconies where fish used to be dried. The jewel of the island is the small Church of San Vittore overlooking the square: dating back to the 11th century, it became a parish church in 1627 and has always been dear to the islanders, who also keep their small cemetery here. Also of interest is the Studio of the island artist Andrea Ruffoni: trained for many years in Italy and abroad in contemporary art, on his return to the island he developed an original technique of burning and casting plastic materials on metal mesh to incorporate into the achromatic magma whole human figures or fragments of everyday objects and other traces of life. His works are today clearly visible in the studio house and garden open to the public. Souvenir stalls and craft shops line the narrow streets of the village, making the atmosphere of Isola dei Pescatori even more picturesque. Together with the nearby islands of Isola Bella and Isola Madre, famous throughout the world for their luxurious palaces and splendid botanical gardens owned by the noble Borromeo family, Isola dei Pescatori, of a simpler, more intimate and authentic beauty, forms the so-called Borromean Gulf in the middle of Lake Maggiore, a true "pearl" of this part of Piedmont. The island is also defined as a "transit area" within the Protected Areas of Ticino and Lake Maggiore, the park along the lake basin that comprises a varied and widespread environmental and natural heritage. Administratively, Isola dei Pescatori belongs to the territory of Stresa, a well-known tourist resort since the 19th century, thanks to the presence of illustrious figures such as Antonio Rosmini, Alessandro Manzoni and Elisabetta di Sassonia, Duchess of Genoa. The construction of the Simplon railway at the beginning of the 20th century brought Stresa and its islands to international prominence: elegant hotels were built on the lakefront for the many European travellers visiting the area, and some of the most prominent families of the Italian aristocracy built their villas and gardens overlooking the gulf, crowned by the Alps. Today, thanks to the unchanged beauty of the landscape, the artistic and cultural value of the attractions, the proximity to Milan, Turin and their airports, and the tradition of hospitality of the grand hotels, these places are more important than ever for tourism in Italy and abroad. Every year, between July and September, a major attraction is the Stresa Festival, the great international classical music event that since 1962 has made Stresa, the islands and other nearby breathtaking locations among the most admired art locations in Europe.
Typical food and wine
The restaurants and taverns on Isola dei Pescatori offer the best of lake fish, from perch to whitefish, from pike perch to char and arborella. It is prepared in the most varied and delicious ways: in carpione as an appetizer, as an accompaniment to fragrant risottos, as a main course cooked in the oven, sautéed in butter and sage or gently fried and crisped. With "Gente di Lago" (Lake People), at the beginning of October, the chef patron of the event, Marco Sacco, and the island's restaurateurs will take you on a discovery of lake cuisine, including the best traditional dishes and delicious reinterpretations. A gastronomic journey to get to know fresh water flavours, stories and traditions. Not to be missed, both on the island and on the mainland, are the typical Stresa biscuits, the Margheritine. It was the Stresa confectioner Pietro Antonio Bolongaro, who was in charge of preparing the cakes for the Savoy family's mid-August banquet, who first baked these exquisite buttery shortcrust pastries covered in icing sugar in 1857, which Queen Margherita fell in love with. In honour of the queen, the fragrant biscuits were named after her.
Recommended Treks: Lake Maggiore: CHESTNUT TRAIL FROM STRESA TO BELGIRATE
Recommended Bike Routes: Stresa-Arona Ring
The island is accessible for people with reduced mobility. For persons using a manual wheelchair, the presence of an accompanying person is recommended.
Recommended "For all" path: Lake Maggiore: FISHERMEN'S ISLAND AND ALPINIA GARDEN
The small houses, balconies, porticos and narrow streets of Isola dei Pescatori are adorned here and there with the colourful fishing nets of yesteryear, left on display for passers-by almost like museum pieces. They were thrown from the "burchielli", collected at dawn, full of fish and rigorously repaired by hand. They represent the fruit of the know-how of peaceful, hard-working men who were, and still are, the true protagonists of the island's history.
Archivio Fotografico Distretto Turistico dei Laghi
Foto di Marco Benedetto Cerini