Nestled in glacial valleys carved out of the southern slopes of the Alps, an Italian lakes holiday would be must-see even if they just had their natural beauty to show off. Throw in the splendour of towns, palazzi and villages on the edge of the lakes, and the added temptation of a boat ride, and their legendary attraction becomes clear.
Italy’s Lakeland is spread out across a 100-mile-wide stretch in the north of the country, at the point where the Lombardy plain gives way to the Alps, whilst sharing a distinct geographic similarity, the lakes have different characters. Discover these for yourself on a holiday to the Italian lakes.
Often described as the most spectacular of the lakes, Lake Como’s shoreline is scattered with villages, including the exquisite Bellagio on the Lake’s Southern shore. Elegant Como town is famous for it’s silk-industry, Como-designed and woven silk scarves are at a fraction of the price than in an international boutique. Lake Como has rugged beauty, soaring mountain peaks and has attracted scores of composers, artists and poets.
The largest of the Lakes stretching between the Alps and the Dolomites, embraces a diverse scenery, ranging from low-lying countryside on its southern borders and rising to the north with perpendicular cliffs draped in pine forests. Offering a plethora of activities, Lake Garda is a haven for windsurfing, hiking, mountain-biking its south eastern corner is also home to two theme parks.
Italy's second-largest lake, Lake Maggiore divides the regions of Piemonte and Lombardy, the lake's northern end, in the Alps, stretches into Switzerland. The most popular Lake Maggiore resorts are on the western shores of the lake. Stresa is a lovely town with beautiful villas and gardens and facing due east across the lake has a ringside view of the fiery sun rising up. Forming Maggiore's most beautiful corner, the Borromean Islands are unmissable.
The westernmost of the main Lakes, Orta is entirely within Piemonte and is shrouded by thick-green woodlands. The quaint medieval village of Orta San Giulio is a web of squares and cobbled lanes. Just across from the town sits the enchanting island of Isolo San Giulio, almost entirely taken up by a 12th Century Basilica and is certainly worth a visit.