Stresa is a small town of only about 5,000 inhabitants on the shores of the Lake Maggiore in the region of Piedmont, in Nothern Italy.
In the 15th century it grew into a fishing community and owed feudal allegiance to the Visconti family. It subsequently came under the control of the Borromeo family.
For centuries Stresa has been a popular retreat for Europe's aristocrats, who have endowed the town with a number of villas. Tourism increased substantially after tunneling of the Simplon Pass allowed train service from north of the Alps to pass through Stresa, in 1906.
One famous visitor in 1948 was Ernest Hemingway who set part of his novel Farewell to Arms in the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees. In 2002 Stresa hosted the 10th International Hemingway Conference.
Stresa is also known for hosting two important political conferences in the 20th century. In 1935, representatives from the United Kingdom, Italy and France met in Stresa and decided to form the Stresa front to combat and contain Nazi Germany and re-affirm the Treaty of Locarno. In 1958, the foundations for what was later to become the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Economic Community were laid down in Stresa.