Italian Lakes

Lake Como, Italy

Italy has more than 1,500 lakes that are dotted throughout its landscape. The northern lakes always gets a special mention as they are where a lot of visitors love to go on holiday. Lake Garda is the biggest, with a surface area of 370 square kilometres. Lake Maggiore is the second largest, with its northern waters flowing over into the Ticino region of Switzerland, while Lake Como is the deepest at 410 metres.

There is so much to enjoy while visiting the Lakes of Italy from the magnificent scenery, stunning villas and the plethora of water sports, swimming, sailing just to name a few the regions have to offer.

Lago di Como (Lake Como) is the glamour girl of the Italian Lakes where the privileged have come to play ever since Roman times, when Pliny built his villa on its eastern shore. More recently, it is the Hollywood A-listers who choose to come here for their holidays with the elegant and pretty town of Bellagio its centre.

The town of Como is a former Roman City whose prime attractions are a magnificent Romanesque Cathedral and a cable car that ascends to views of the lake and the snowcapped Alps beyond. Starting in Como you can travel by boat to any of the scenic towns that are scattered around the lake. There are ferries that travel between Bellagio, Tremezzo, Varenna, Lenno, Menaggio and other towns.

Due to Lake Como’s perfect climate, there are some lovely gardens to explore while in the region including the Giardini di Villa Melzi in Bellagio, Villa Carlotta's Gardens in Tremezzo, the terraced Gardens of Villa Monastero in Varenna and the Baroque Villa Balbianello on its Garden covered point, reached by boat from Lenno. These flower studded landscapes supported by the Lake and Alps are why Como is top of the list for visitors.

Lago Maggiore (Lake Maggiore) is shared with Switzerland and the northernmost towns of Ascona and Locarno are in the Swiss Ticino region. However, Lake Maggiore's best areas for things to do are found in Italy. Towns along its western shore are on a direct train line from Milan and the lower end of the lake is only a few kilometres from Malpensa Airport.

The main places to visit are located on the western shore, where you will find the lovely Subtropical Gardens and Park of Villa Taranto and Villa Pallavicino. The latter has a Botanical Garden and a Zoo with exotic animals, making it a favourite thing for families to enjoy.

Stresa is the areas sophisticated base and from here you can take a boat trip to the three Borromean Islands. Although each of the Islands has its own charm, the major attraction is Rocca Borromeo and the Palace on Isola Bella. Its grand salons and galleries, with their magnificent decorative grand gestures encrusted with gold, cover most of the island however, the highlight of any visit is the even more elaborate formal garden that rises tier after tier above the lake.

Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) is more commonly known as the adventure playground lake. You can find almost any freshwater sport here and at its northern end, Torbole offers some of the finest windsurfing and kitesurfing in Europe. The winds also mean the lake is great for sailing, however the calmer southern waters more popular for those who like kayaking.

The best beaches are found in the southern part of the lake and the surrounding mountains have trails of various difficulties for those who like to hike. For some of the most stunning views over the lake take the revolving cable car from Malcesine up to the summit of Monte Baldo. It is an extremely impressive sight.

Garda is also a favourite place for families due to its relaxed atmosphere, shallow beaches, an abundant of family friendly resorts and theme parks. The most famous of these is Gardaland, Gardaland Sea Life and Caneva World with its movie themed attractions. Families also love the Castle at Sirmione, a little town on the southern shore. Sirmione has extensive remains of an elaborate Roman spa and resort amongst its shops and boutiques make it a popular place for those who like to go shopping.

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