The spectacular Italian Lake region stretches between Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto. It has been a popular destination since Roman times and remains one of the biggest tourist Italy attractions.
The main lakes in the area are Como, Maggiore, Orta, Iseo and Garda, each of them differs in size and character.
Como is considered by many Italy’s most sophisticated lakes, and not only because George Clooney had a magnificent villa there. Its low-key glamour, dramatic backdrop of the Alps, and pretty lakeside towns with belle epoque villas can steal anyone’s heart. Lake Como has something for everyone: the busy elegant resort of Bellagio with rows of cafes and restaurants, picturesque sailing port of Cernobbio, fishing villages of Varenna and Bellano with their sleepy atmosphere.
Lake Garda, the largest in the Italian Lake District, is popular with a younger crowd and families because of its variety of beaches, campsites, windsurfing, sailing facilities and nightlife. The Brenta Dolomites dominate the fjord-like northern shore while the south end of the lake is framed by gentle hills dotted with vineyards and olive groves. You can hop in a cable car in the picturesque town of Malcesine to explore the verdant eastern shore.
Maggiore is the second largest lake boasts many grand hotels, stately villas and formal gardens. During summer season ferries shuttle visitors back and forth between the beautiful Borromean islands and the belle epoque resort of Stresa.
Head to tranquil Lake Iseo if you want to avoid hordes of visitors. Its promenades and large squares are achingly elegant and centuries-old churches have art that is worth seeing. The restaurants that dot the lake shore serve excellent fish and local wine. Many nature lovers come to Lake Iseo for great walks in the area, nearby wetland nature reserve and spectacular Valle Camonica.
Lake Orta is small, only eight miles long, but full of charm. Its main town of Orta San Giulio has a lovely lakeside square with a frescoed 16th-century palazzo. A short boat ride away is the Island of San Giulio with a beautiful Benedictine monastery.
The season on the Italian Lakes starts at Easter and runs until the end of October.
Photos by: Michael Bertulat, Franco Folini, Cristiano Deana.