Our house is situated on the edge of the tiny village of Someraro, known locally as the roof of Lake Maggiore. We are just a couple of kilometres above Stresa, half-way between Milan and Switzerland, one of the most accessible areas of Italy, just 10 minutes from the motorway connecting Switzerland with the Mediterranean and 45 minutes from Italy's second international airport: Malpensa.
It is no exaggeration to say that the views from the house and garden, offering an almost 180 degree unobstructed panorama over the magnificent Lago Maggiore, extending to Switzerland and the Alps, are sublime and surely amongst the most dramatic and beautiful in the world.
Our house makes the ideal base for a relaxing holiday as it very close to Stresa (5 minutes by car) yet away from the hustle and bustle, the perfect place to return to after a busy day exploring the many sites that the area has to offer.
Casa Lavender (previously Casa Alice) was recently converted from a farm building dating back to the 1700s. Built into the side of the hill, it is on three floors and features two bedrooms with the airy master bedroom occupying the third floor and offering the most dramatic views. On the ground floor there is a kitchen and a living room with wonderful, panoramic windows looking out in three directions. On the lowest floor there is the second bedroom and the bathroom.
Behind the house there is a large sloping garden which we have sought to turn into an attractive destination in its own right. In fact, many guests now spend much of their time there rather than visiting the local sites. You will find a full-size trampoline, a solarium terrace with chairs, a lovely Colombian hammock, a natural stone barbecue and a shady pergola. There is also a dining table on the patio in a sunny position just outside the main door.
Great care was taken during building work to complete the house to the highest standards and many specialist craftsmen were employed. For example, the chunky terracotta floor tiles from Tuscany are very unusual in that they are totally handmade, as is the entire kitchen area with the wall-tiles hand painted by a local craftsman. Most furniture is antique.
The wonderful views extend from the Pre-Alps on the left, taking in Italy's largest wilderness area: Val Grande, all the way down the main stretch of the lake to Switzerland and to the right toward the plains. All three islands can be seen as can the cliff-hugging Santa Caterina Monastery on the far shore. All are reachable by public boat service.
One of the really special things about Casa Lavender is that however hot the temperature elsewhere in Italy or even down in Stresa, you can always count on a pleasant, fresh temperature on the patio on the shaded northern side of the house: a great place to eat while enjoying the amazing views. Similarly, open all the windows in the master bedroom at night and the faintest of breezes wafting down from the mountain will stop you overheating.
The house and garden are extremely peaceful as Casa Lavender is set away from the road. There is no sight nor sound of the motorway marked on the map as it is deep underground.
The house is set back from the road and so the only sounds will be the evocative chirping of crickets, birdsong and an occasional muffled voice in the distance, wafting up on the breeze, announcing destinations for the public boat service: "Stresa, Baveno, Verbania". One sound that won't be disturbing your relaxation is the irritating, whining of mosquitoes!
|Size||Sleeps up to 5, 2 bedrooms|
|Rooms||2 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms, Solarium or roof terrace|
|Nearest beach||2 km|
|Nearest Amenities||2 km|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: Malpensa 40 km, Nearest railway: Stresa 2 km|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages|
|Notes||Some pets are welcome - please contact the owner, No smoking at this property|
|Luxuries||Log fire, Internet access, DVD player|
|General||Central heating, TV, Video player, CD player, Satellite TV, Wi-Fi available|
|Standard||Kettle, Toaster, Iron, Hair dryer|
|Utilities||Dishwasher, Cooker, Microwave, Fridge, Freezer, Washing machine|
|Furniture||1 Sofa beds, Double beds (1), Single beds (3), Dining seats for 7, Lounge seats for 3|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided, High chair|
|Outdoors||Balcony or terrace, Private garden, BBQ, Trampoline|
|Access||Not suitable for wheelchair users|
The North West Italy region is one of the most varied in Italy, taking in some of Europe's highest mountains and a Mediterranean microclimate along the shores of Lago Maggiore. In fact you can be basking in the sun and admiring Isola Bella's lemon trees in the morning and skiing in the afternoon.
For shoppers, Milan is just 50 minutes from Stresa station by comfortable Swiss train whilst you can take a day trip in the other direction to visit Switzerland's cities, including Geneva.
The hills and mountains are a trekker's paradise and are accessible either by car, train or cablecar. In fact Mottarone mountain and ski resort rises up behind Stresa, peaking at almost 1500 metres. You can either drive or take the cable car from the lake shore below the house.
The climate is cool in winter and in summer hot, but not excessively so. In fact, in July and August, the temperature is usually quite bearable at lake level. Even on the hottest days you can be sure to find a cool spot in the garden or on the patio.
You will need at least a week to do justice to the area's infinite charms: island villages and palaces, island castles, beaches, cliff-hugging monasteries, lemon trees and glaciers, first world war trenches and fortifications, vineyards, ski-slopes, mountain trails, cheese producers and water parks. The list of must-see sites is endless and suitable for young and old alike.
As the property owners are real experts on the area and its attractions, please do not hesitate to ask us for suggestions as to what to see, maybe something relating to a particular interest. We would be delighted to help. There are a wealth of activities to be enjoyed throughout the year, ranging from historic housese and gardens to ski-slopes and water-based sports. The most famous attractions are the three beautiful islands in the lake, two of which are inhabited whilst the third is unique in that each side of the island has its own microclimate: the north side is temperate whilst the south side is Mediterranean with colourful plants usually associated with more southernly climes.
Lago Orta, just a short drive away is incredibly romantic and the ideal place for a relaxing stroll. For swimming, we recommend Lago di Mergozzo, another lake just 15 minutes from the house. The water is wonderfully clean and perfect for a summertime dip. Gardeners are well-catered for with a host of wonderful places to visit including Villa Taranto, the Isola Bella gardens and many less well-know gardens. A cable car whisks visitors up from Stresa's lakeside up to a 1400 metre mountain, the ideal place to cool off if things get too hot down by the lake.