The Villas of Solcio and Lesa
How to get
By train: Lesa station is on the Milan-Domodossola line.
On the lake shore between Meina and Stresa is the attractive little town of Lesa, which along with its outlying villages has a number of fine villas. One of these villages of ancient origin is Solcio, between the lake and the hillside.
Villa Cavallini: this imposing residence is the result of a fusion of three buildings. The beautiful grounds surrounding it are partly in the Italian, partly in the English style. Its castle-style tower bears the family coat of arms: a prancing horse with the motto “impavide e constanter” – “always fearless”. A curious feature of the garden behind the house is the gravestones with epitaphs in memory of the dogs bred by Senator Cavallini, a greyhound enthusiast. The Senator left the villa to the town of Lesa in his will.
Villa Stampa: for over twenty years from 1839, the great novelist Alessandro Manzoni spent summer holidays in this lovely late 18th century villa, owned by his second wife, Teresa Borri, the widow of Count Decio Stampa. Count Gustavo Benso di Cavour, the poets Berchet and Giulio Carcano, the painter Hayez, Antonio Rosmini, the federalist Niccolò Tommaseo, the statesmen Ruggero Bonghi and Massimo d’Azeglio, were just some of the personalities who often met here to talk about literature and philosophy, art and politics. Today the villa houses a bank, but also a museum dedicated to Manzoni, with documents and furniture which belonged to the famous writer.
Other interesting houses are Villa Correnti, built at the end if the 19th century by the statesman Cesare Correnti in a strict Neoclassical style, Castello Florio, built at the beginning of the 19th century by Viotti, whose intention it was to reproduce the idea of the medieval castles of Lesa, and Villa Savio-Sozzani-Tavella, built in castle style by the architect Pietro Bottini and today a prestigious restaurant.