Goethe, Hemingway and DH Lawrence are just some of the writers who have praised the beautiful Italian lakes. With villas hugging the shores and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the lakes are fortunately not too common a visiting spot for tourists, so you can enjoy the spectacular scenery without the hustle and bustle of cities like Rome and Milan.
Lago di Como
Nestled in the north of Italy, the region is populated by many large lakes, and smaller ones dotted between them. To the east you will find Lago di Como, which is just north of Milan. Famous for its silk industry, it is surrounded by stunning scenery and villas.
The shape of the lake is that of an upside down ‘Y’, which gives Lago di Como the biggest perimeter of all the North-Italian lakes. Along its vast perimeter are many towns, the most famous of which is Bellagio, which sits in the middle of the lake, where the two ‘Y’ arms meet. Many call it the jewel of the lake, and see it as one of the most romantic spots in all of Italy.
Lago di Garda
Lago di Garda is the largest and busiest of the lakes. In its southwest corner, Desenzano Del Garda is the primary transport hub of the lake. Starting as far back as the first century BC, the port of Desenzano del Garda was a favourite resort for rich families travelling through Verona.
A peninsula in the centre of the lake is home to a thirteenth century castle, overgrown with vines, that is beautiful and fascinating to wander through.
The views of the Alps along the southern shore of the lake are spectacular, and draw in throngs of tourists every year. Visitors to Desenzano may also be whisked into a night of dancing, as the town is known as the heart of Lago di Garda nightlife. Of particular interest to party-goers are the piazza Malvezzi and piazza Matteotti.
Lago di Lugano
Straddled between Italy and Switzerland, Lago di Lugano is one of the smallest of the Italian lakes, giving it a romantic and intimate feeling. At the furthest east side of the lake is Porlezza, a resort destination fast growing in popularity for its scenic splendour and excellent hotels and restaurants.
Monte San Giorgio, with its north side sitting in Switzerland and its southern side in Italy, has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to it being “…the single best known record of marine life in the Triassic period.” Apart from the remarkable fossils found here, it also affords some of the best views of the lake.
Lago di Maggiore, Lago di Orta and Lago di Iseo are some of the smaller, lesser known (though no less beautiful) lakes dotted between Lugano, Garda and Como.
- Photo of Lago di Garda by Sven Golz
Guest author Jeff writes for Thomas Cook Tours, a provider of escorted tours to Italy and countless other destinations around the world.