The Not-to-be-Missed “Lake District” of Northern Italy10 May 2015

Visions of Italy for many include iconic art treasures, breath-taking historical sites, delicious wines and food, and scenic countryside for starters, but often overlooked is the majestic beauty of Italy’s numerous lakes, just steps away from Milan and Venice in the foothills of the Alps.  Each of the major lakes has its own unique character but all offer relaxation, beauty, a variety of accommodations, great cuisine, and a plethora of water and outdoor activities.  Having just spent a glorious week in this area, I invite you to consider seeing for yourself what these lakes have to offer.  In addition to experiencing one of the major lakes described below, you may want to explore some of the smaller lakes such as Lake Orta and its medieval village of Orta San Giulio.  Here is an idea of what you will find at the major lakes in this region…

Lake Garda, Italy, Northern Italy, lake districtLake Garda – is located farthest to the east and is the largest lake in Italy.  The water is clean and great for swimming, fishing and boating.  It boasts natural hot springs water that is piped to two villages on its shoreline.  One of these spa towns is picturesque and medieval Sirmione, located on a peninsula on the southern shore – less than one hour from beautiful Verona and next door to the Valpolicella wine region.   Consider the Villa Cortine Palace Hotel for a luxurious stay in a tranquil park setting with glorious lake views.

Lake Como, Italy, Northern Italy Lake Como – lies directly north of Milan about one hour by train or car.  Surrounded by beautiful mountains, it has the largest concentration of beautiful villas on its shoreline, which were largely built during the heyday of the silk business in this area.  The southern and middle portions of Lake Como are dotted with charming villages as well as the bustling town of Como to the south that has a lovely historic center, great shopping, two train stations, and plenty of great dining options.  This is the hub for the public ferry systems that run throughout the lake and even offers a seaplane port for transportation “uplake” or to nearby lakes and scenic sightseeing.  Great hiking trails abound all around the lake, some quite challenging.  Accommodations range from simple boutique hotels to luxurious villa hotels that you will not want to leave.

Lake Maggiore, Italy, Northern ItalyLake Maggiore – is the second largest of the lakes in this region and has several lovely islands, all of which are privately owned by the Borromeo family except one.  Two of their islands, Isola Madre and Isola Bella, have beautiful gardens open to the public, with Bella also offering a villa to explore – both of which are well worth a visit.  This lake is great for swimming and boating, as well as other water activities. Other activities include golf, a scenic train, shopping, hiking, and a visit to nearby Piedmont wine region.  The Villa & Palazzo Aminta awaits you if you are looking for a luxurious and relaxing stay.

These lakes are easily reached by car (Lake Garda from Venice or Verona to the east, Lakes Como and Maggiore from Milan to the south) or by train.  Driving is not for the faint of heart in this area, however, as roads are very narrow and many are very windy with lots of congestion (especially Lake Como).  You may want to consider arriving by train then having a private transfer or car/water taxi to your hotel.

Categories : Blog, Custom Tours, Europe, Italy

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