Adventures By Disney Review: Italy & Switzerland | Day 3 – Stresa
WELCOME BACK to Day 3 of our Adventures By Disney trip, which was deemed our official day in Stresa, Italy!
If you’re just finding this post, welcome to the party! We are doing a full trip report of our entire Adventures By Disney Italy & Switzerland Trip! If you would like to read the full story, click here to go back to the very beginning!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of Stresa, Italy before. It’s honestly such a hidden gem! Stresa is a cute little town right along the gorgeous Lago Maggiore. Then within Lago Maggiore, there are a few islands to explore!
And explore those islands we did! That is what our Day 3 itinerary was all about.
Friday, September 2nd, 2022
Since we were operating on “island time” we didn’t have to meet until 9:30 AM, which is considered “sleeping in” in the Adventures By Disney world!
I got ready, Jon and I went down and got breakfast, and then we met up with the group in the lobby!
Boat Ride on Lago Maggiore
Our local guide met us in the lobby and lead us straight to a boat! We left Stresa, took a little cruise on Lago Maggiore, and ended up on Isola Bella. In the morning it was so overcast that the clouds were set very low and glazing across the mountain tops!
Exploring Palazzo Borromeo
We arrived on the island and did a tour of the Palazzo Borromeo. During this tour, we were enchanted with fun facts and stories about the history of the Borromeo family. (Who our hotel is named after!) The Borromeo family was a very wealthy family who owned a lot of property around Lago Maggiore.
“The family members are deemed Princes and Princesses,” our guide relayed to us, “but it doesn’t really mean much of anything here besides the fact that they had a lot of money.” So the titles and wealth were in place but they held no political power or responsibilities. That sounds like a decent deal to me!
The building we walked through was full of artwork and intricate architecture. A lot of the artwork being from the Baroque period, which is typically known as very dramatic and detailed… and some would even say bizarre!
I will always particularly remember this room where every bit of it was made out of stones… it was impressive! What an interesting texture!
Meeting the White Peacocks on Isola Bella
We also went out to the Baroque Gardens afterward. Our guide gushed about the gorgeous white peacocks that roam the grounds here and we were crossing our fingers that we would get to see them!
It must have been our lucky day because we got to see two of these gentle creatures. They were so used to being near people that they didn’t even flinch when humans wanted to take photos next to them!
The garden itself was absolutely stunning too. The Italian Style-baroque architecture provided a very formal and eloquent atmosphere. The centerpiece was very tall, surrounded by bright pink flowers, gorgeous stairs, and structures. My favorite part was the unicorn that was built into the stone! Unicorns were the main symbol of the Borromeo family so they were everywhere. It was very impressive and quite breathtaking!
After we saw the sights of Isola Bella, we met up with the crew to catch the boat to our next stop!
Walking Tour through Isola de Pescatori
The next destination was Isola de Pescatori, which was the fisherman’s island!
Our local guide gave us a quick walking tour of the island right when we arrived. We walked into a beautiful little church so we could admire the architecture. However, our tour guide got “shushed” because there was a local up front trying to concentrate on his praying. Sorry, sir! 😅
The main thing our guide showed us was where they marked the wall to track the height of the flooding. “Maggiore” (from Lago Maggiore) means lake “major” and it’s not because of the size of the lake but because of the major flooding that can occur. There were marks from 1993 and 2000 which were the biggest floods they had!
Lunch on Isola de Pescatori
Then we had lunch at La Pescheria and sat on a beautiful terrace at 3 big tables for the whole group. Jon and I sat with Rob, Shawn, Erica, Tyler, Kristen, and Veronica. I absolutely LOVE talking to them. They all have such amazing journeys and stories to share!
Shawn and Rob both worked for Disney in television a while ago, and it was during the prime of Disney Channel. So we got to hear some pretty cool behind-the-scenes stories from the High School Musical/Hannah Montana days, which made my pre-teen self so unbelievably happy. We also talked about their experience of doing the Adventures By Disney trip in China a few years ago! That itinerary was 16 days long with 4 different flights… but they said Disney did such a phenomenal job with helping transfer the luggage and making all of the travel so seamless.
We are all obviously very big fans of the Disney brand, and I would say that one of the biggest pluses of the Adventures By Disney experience is getting to meet other Disney fans you may have never crossed paths with otherwise. Everyone truly has their own amazing perspectives to share!
As far as lunch goes, I think this was actually our least favorite of the whole trip, but that’s okay! I had vegetable flan for a starter, beef for an entree, and lemon cake for dessert. The lemon cake definitely the best of the three… but who’s surprised? I love my lemons!
Food Tasting in Stresa
After that, we took the boat back to Stresa and went to La Cambusa Wine Shop to do a “taste of Italy” Food & Wine tasting! It was PHENOMENAL.
This place is a family-owned business. They have 5 (now grown) kids in the family and 3 of them hang around the shop! The woman who led the tasting was absolutely phenomenal. She was such a character and she really knew her stuff!
So let us begin the tasting! Did you know that, just like wine, Balsamic is actually aged as well? We got to try Balsamic which was 7 and 10 years old. It had so much flavor, I was blown away!
Cold-Pressed Olive Oil was one of their specialties, and it was available in a gorgeous square bottle. Our host deemed it as the “Chanel No. 5” of Olive Oils because it was both high quality and very beautiful. It completely lived up to that name, in my opinion!
We had spices in the Olive Oil that were just so flavorful. Our host had tons of suggestions of how you can use these foods at home. For the spices, she suggested melting butter, sprinkling in some spices, and then pouring the mixure into an ice cute tray to freeze them. That way you could put it on steaks or other meats when they are fresh off the grill. So fancy and delicious.
We also had truffle spread from my favorite brand, Giuliano Tartufi. It was placed on these circular crackers for a crunchy, savory snack!
You can see pretty much everything we tried in the below picture: The Olive Oil is in the beautiful dark green square glass container, the truffle is spread on the crackers on the plate, and the spices are in the plastic bag with the blue paper top!
As a little dessert, we got to have the freshest hazelnuts with a little chocolate spread. Think elevated and natural Nutella! So good!
And a Stresa Wine Tasting, Too!
We also tried 4 different wines – 2 dry and 2 sweet. There was a red and white of each!
I remember one of our fellow Adventurers, Amy, said how much she does not like wine, but the sweet red from this place absolutely blew her away! She adored it and definitely got some sent home.
Oh yeah, and that’s the coolest thing about this shop! You can get things shipped! La Cambusa Wine Shop ships all over the world. (you can order via their website) They pack everything so nicely and make sure the wine and products are kept at the correct temperature. The shipping fees are a bit high when you ship internationally, but if you get a whole box of stuff, you can make it worth your while! A lot of people on the tour got 6 or 12 bottles of wine and shipped them home for Christmas gifts! I’m tellin’ ya, if you’re looking to go fancy for the holidays, this would be a fantastic idea.
Also, this is not sponsored at all, I just absolutely loved this place! You seriously can’t beat authentic Italian products, especially from a family-owned shop in a town as cute as Stresa!
A Moment of Rest in Stresa
After our Tasting, we went back to the hotel. We have been go-go-going ever since the Adventure began a few days ago so we were all ready for a break!
I did want to check out this pool before I left because I had a feeling it would be very beautiful… and I was right! Realistically, I only had the energy to scroll through TikTok and decompress, but this wasn’t too bad of a place to do that!
Afterwards, I went back upstairs, took a shower, and then called Steven! He was hanging out in Florence and got tickets to see an Opera Tribute Performance tonight, and was making plans to take a little solo trip to Cinque Terre this weekend! Cinque Terre is what Disney Pixar’s Luca was based on, so he was having his own little Italy-Disney moment too while we were apart!
Dinner On Our Own in Stresa
After a quick catch-up, we went out for a family dinner on our own at Ristorante Trattoria Lo Stornello.
With the Adventures By Disney itinerary, a lot of meals are included within the price of the tour. However, there are a few nights when you’re completely on your own! It does stink in the sense that you need to pay separately for these (especially when you already paid Di$ney prices for the tour), but it is nice that you can recharge your social batteries and go more at your own pace.
The Adventure Guides really do a fantastic job and not only recommend restaurants for us to go to, but also set up our reservations! We were never without a place to go!
Mamma Mia was sooo good the other day that we were worried this other Stresa restaurant wouldn’t live up to par, but Ristorante Trattoria Lo Stornello was also VERY wonderful! (Mamma Mia still takes the #1 spot for us though!)
I got a Chickpea Quinoa Burger (because I had just been eating pasta for 2 months straight at this point and was craving variety LOL). Jon got Linguine with Pine Nuts and Anchovies. Dad got Sea Bass. Mom got Cavatelli with Cheese, Snow Peas, and Sausage. And we all split the Gnocchi.
To give a completely honest review – Everything was good, but the Gnocchi was the best of them all! It had the best flavors and textures all around.
There were 2 or 3 other groups from the Adventure at the same restaurant as us. We were actually seated next to two of our fellow adventurers, Jacques and Jessica, who were former performers in the Festival of the Lion King at Walt Disney World! Too cool!
After dinner, we went to K2 Gelateria and it was one of the coolest gelato places I’ve been to! They stuffed the cone with whipped cream, shaped the gelato like a rose, and dipped the top in chocolate. It just completely elevated the gelato experience!
We walked back home after that. I had to force myself to stay awake and pack my suitcase because we’re moving tomorrow! Bags out at 8 AM!
And that’s it for Day 3 and for ITALY! Tomorrow we’re going to a whole new country and my favorite city of the entire trip. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to tell you about it!
Stay tuned! 🙂
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