The name has uncertain origins and the historians chase various assumptions in this regard between: Lixia, Lexa or Lexia, all names with Gallic roots.
It is a town in the province of Novara, situated at the feet of the slopes of Motta Rossa, in a cove on the western shore of Lake Maggiore, on the delta of the Erno. From the lake shore it is possible to admire a panorama that sweeps from the Gulf of Lesa to the tip of Belgirate, between the territories of bays of Ranco-Ispra and Ispra-Monvalle towards the Lombard shores, and between the coast of Arola and Santa Caterina del Sasso. In the town wide porches give shelter to antique shops, narrow streets hide groups of houses, characterized by pillars, doorways and other architectural elements dating from the XIV and XV centuries.
In 1240, Lesa was linked to the monastery of St. Sepulcher of Ternate and probably Lesa had its own court already in year 1000. The Bishop of Tortona, in 998, ceded part of the properties to the Duke of Carinthia, including the castrum, already known as Lexia, and the remainder was donated to the Emperor Otto III. Between the XII and XIII centuries the Parish of Lesa passed to the archbishops of Milan and soon became a vital center, home to two judges and the mayor. In 1348, Giovanni Visconti, Lord of the city, ordered the payment of tolls, that had to be paid by merchants who were transporting merchandises through the territory of Vergante: Lesa became an important fluvial port and these payments continued until the XVII century. In 1416 Lesa and Vergante returned under the rule of the Parish, but a few years later, it became a possession of the Borromeo, that ruled here for about three hundred years.
Not to miss:
- the Parish of St. Martin is reported for the first time in a document, which dates back to the XIII century. It is built in Romanesque style with three naves and inside it preserves a XV-XVI century fresco representing the Madonna with Saints, a painting in the presbytery of the artist Vermilion, precious altars, a wooden statue group of San Martino dating to 1889, and a valuable pavement. In the sacristy there are some stone tombs, on which no inscriptions or dates are reported.
- the Church of San Rocco in the village of Solcio, which was built in the XIX century in Neoclassical style. Inside it features frescoes of the artist Induno.
- the Church of San Sebastian in the district of Villa, built in XI century. It features a Bell Tower with spire in Romanesque style.
- Villa Stampa, of XVIII century origins, built in Neoclassical style, is famous for being the residence of the famous writer Manzoni during the XIX century. Originally it was more spacious and reached the shores of the lake, but in 1806 the building was partially demolished to give space to the main road towards the Simplon pass.
- Villa Noseda, situated in a park, was built on an existing building in the second half of the XVIII century. It presents a neoclassical façade and belonged to the Visconti of Ornavasso.
- Villa Cavallini situated in the hamlet of Solcio, features a fresco of Morgari.
- Villa Tadini, which dates back to 1910, has been enriched by a beautiful park.
- the Castle.