Located in the picturesque landscape of the mountains, Italy’s Lakes have elegance, charm and beauty. Tourists have been charmed by images of romance and adventure, with the winding mountain paths and Baroque Palaces there is a laid back feeling that will take over anybody that visits the Italian Lakes.
Lake Maggiore straddles the boarder of Italy and Switzerland and is considered one of the most beautiful Italian lakes. Surrounded by mountains, it is sheltered from the cold north winds and creates a beautiful backdrop. Lake Maggiore has been a favourite resort for a long time, and included the noble families of Lombardy, who began building splendid villas at the beginning of 1700s.
Lake Maggiore is known for its islands, the Borromean Islands. These include Isola Madre, Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescator. Isola Madre and are known as the “sisters”and are a great place for tourists to visit, visit the splendid palazzos and the fabulous gardens. Isola Bella is names after the wife of Carlo III Borromeo, Isabella d’Adda. The Palazzo Borromeo, build on Isola Bella is a delight with halls and rooms decorated in the 17th and 19th Centuries and amazing stone and shell covered grottoes. The gardens are also a magnificent site, with the ten terraces decorated with statues.
Lake Garda is possibly the most famous of the Italian lakes and it has been capitvating poets, politicians, divas, dictators and celebrities for centuries. The lake is surrounded by three distinct regions; Lombardy, Trentino Alto-Adige and Veneto. It has given the Lake a cultural diversity that attracts a cosmopolitan crowd, but it is also the most family friendly and the best for water sports.
North of Verona, Lake Garda is the largest of the lakes, the southern shore has beaches and is backed by low hills. The north side of the lake has mountains and especially along the western shore there are sheer cliffs, giving the lake a beautiful mixture of attractions, activities and vistas.
There are interesting sites to visit, including Roman remains and World War II and there is also the wonderful town of Verona that can be visited on a day tour away from the Lake.
Lake Orta is often missed by tourists, but it is a definite hidden gem. It is the smallest of the Lakes, and has managed to retain the authentic charm, mainly because it is off the tourist map, but it is no less worthy and it is truly beautiful.
The little island of San Giulio is in the middle of the lake and is walkable within the hour. It is picture perfect and with its church and monastery with its benedictine frescoes and opulent sculptures. With only a small group of nuns maintaining the Basilica, it feels peaceful and authentic.
Orta San Giulia is small town with a colour main piazza and a 12th Century Basilica and a 19th Century monastery and is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Lake Como is the lake with famous residents. The city of Como is on the lakefront and promotes a romantic image of the Lake, with the promenade. There is the charming historical centre with beautiful architecture and the cathedral, that took 350 years to build and has a Romanesque bell tower, gothic facade, pointed arches and as well as elements from Renaissance and the Baroque.
Bellagio is the most famous town of Lake Como, known as the Pearl of Lake Como. The village is settled between the hills and lake and it is a picturesque locations.
One of the main sites to see is the Villa Carlotta, with its fabulous artwork and wonderful botanic garden. Built by Marquis Giorgio Clerici in 1690, choosing to build on an area with spectaular views of Bellagio. It was later bought by Count Giambattista Sommariva, who created a museum to hold his various masterpieces. In 1843, the villa was then sold to Princess Marianne of Nassau, who gifted it as a wedding present to her daughter Carlotta, hence the name.