Best of the Italian Lakes
Lakes Orta and Maggiore: Stay
Great Value Ernest Hemingway used the Grand Hôtel des Iles Borromées (76 Corso Umberto I, Stresa; 39-0323/938-938; borromees.it; doubles from $221) as a setting in his 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms, and it’s no wonder—the property has been a landmark since the mid 1800’s. Inside, rooms are outfitted with richly patterned carpets and Empire-style furniture while a vast collection of Roman vases and decorative artifacts fills the spacious corridors.
Great Value Design buffs love the 12 rooms at Hotel Pironi (35 Via Marconi, Cannobio; 39-0323/70624; pironihotel.it; doubles from $182), where original frescoes and antiques are offset by modern fuchsia pillows and yellow lampshades. Downstairs, a vaulted wine cellar has been converted into a stylish bar with an impressive wine list.
Built by a powerful industrialist in 1879, the turreted Villa Crespi (18 Via G. Fava, Orta San Giulio; 39-0322/911-902; villacrespi.it; doubles from $325; dinner for two $221) is a Moorish-style estate with original plasterwork ceilings, four-poster beds, and damask draperies. The real draw, however, is the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where chef-owner Antonino Cannavacciuolo, formerly of Capri’s Grand Hotel Quisisana, whips up such creative dishes as buffalo mozzarella ice cream with tomato sauce and basil granita.
Great Value If you prefer a farmhouse to a 19th-century villa, check in to the family-run Agriturismo La Capuccina (19B Via Novara, Loc. La Capuccina, Cureggio; 39-0322/839-930; lacapuccina.it