Lombardy: The Lake Region of Italy
In the north of Italy, you can find one of the most picturesque sceneries you have ever seen. A culmination of freshwater streams, towering mountains, natural wildlife and magnificent lakes that adorn its countryside. You will truly feel like you are on an alpine getaway once you get a taste of Lombardy. Lombardy is one of the largest regions in Northern Italy, home to metropolitan, historical and natural spectacles like Milan, Bergamo, Brescia and to our Hotel in the Italian Alps. But the most notable characteristic of Lombardy is its abundance in gorgeous, naturally-formed lake districts. Being in the northern highlands of Italy, the lakes of Lombardy are all of glacial origin, meaning that the melting of ice glaciers helped form the lakes – creating large bodies of water that for years, attracted settlers from all over Italy to seek commune next to these splendid lakes. Today, there are thousands of tourists that travel to Italy every year to retreat, relax and enjoy all the culture, activities and beauty the lakes have to offer.
Known as Lago Como or Lario – is a lake located in Western Lombardy. It is famed for being a retreat for the famous and wealthy ever since the Roman times; with luxurious villas spread across the lake, it makes the perfect scenic getaway. Some gorgeous villas that you can visit are Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello, they are both extremely beautiful, with botanical gardens, exhibitions and events open throughout the year – they are perfect places to get that Instagram pic. Lake Como is 40 km north of Milan and is considered to be the third-largest lake in Italy just after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. All year-round, the climate of Como is quite mild and can become rather humid in the summer months, a great climate to do the range of outdoor excursions and activities offered in Lake Como. Popular activities include sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, fishing and more. Lake Como does not cut short of breathtaking views of the Alpine mountains, wildlife and the natural flora that grow in the Como climate. There are several villages that surround the lake – each with their own personality and beauty – towns such as the traditional villages Bellagio, Varenna, Nesso and Menaggio (in total there are about 9), - all being adorned by magnificent wisterias, camellias, and bougainvillea flowers.
The largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda, is a popular holiday destination in Northern Italy – many famous artists and poets have taken refuge here in the summer. It is located between Brescia and Verona - and within the regions of Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige and Veneto. The formation of this lake is special as the glaciers that created this lake was from the last ice age. In Lake Garda you can find an abundance in olive trees, lemon trees, orange trees, Lombard Wines and truffles - Not only is the view breathtaking, but so is the food. In Lake Garda, there are numerous fish that live in the waters, many of which are fished for local cuisines. Look around the villages, it is rich in historical monuments, Veronese and Venetian castles and towering fortresses. Viewing the landmarks, you could catch a glimpse of its rich past. Some places you should visit are the Sirmione Castle, Grotte di Catullo in Sirmione and Isola del Garda. And If you love active sports, you can do windsurfing, sail boating, diving, and canoeing! There are so many things to see that we cannot make a full extensive list. But one of the best things that you can do in Lake Garda is to take a ferry and jump onto the different Isolas and villages surrounding the lake as they are all amazing towns with their own personality.
In Western Lombard, sits the Lake Maggiore, the second largest lake in Italy. You can find it between the region of Piedmont, Lombardy and the Swiss Canton of Ticino. The lake is filled with beautiful and rare Mediterranean flora, along with gorgeous Isolas that are all magnificently adorned with classic structures. Lake Maggiore is one of the most peaceful lakes compared to the others – the influx of tourists will be less, but will allow you to explore the area uninterrupted. The towns around Lake Maggiore are multi-coloured, with marvelous lakefront promenades. Due to its close proximity to the Swiss border, you can easily travel from Italy to Switzerland – the Lake Maggiore area even accepts Swiss Francs and Euro. Some notable places you should go see are the Borromean Islands, Villas like Villa Taranto and the Tones on the Stones exhibit. Towns situated around Lake Maggiore offer delicious cuisine of fresh local food and regional wines that is sure to satisfy your palate. If you want to learn about Swiss-Italian cuisine, check out our blog post on Valtellina Cuisine.
Lake Iseo is the least known of the big four lakes in Northern Italy – it is often underestimated as it offers such stunning views and great activities for an Italian lake getaway - but not many know about it. Lake Iseo is the perfect destination when you want fewer tourists and want to experience an ‘Off the beaten’ track holiday where you can enjoy the crystal clear lake, lush green mountains and the small towns without the large crowds. In Lake Iseo you can find Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe where cars aren’t allowed, making it the best place to go if you are a fan of strolls. Travelling to Lake Iseo will guarantee you a peaceful and relaxing holiday away from the masses. Here, you can hike, ski, eat lake fish and use the ferry to travel to different villages – for instance – villages like Pisogne have amazing ancient buildings worth taking a look at. Lake Iseo is certainly a hidden gem out of all the Northern Italy lakes, you can go see places like Antica Srada Valeriana where you can catch panoramic scenery of the lake, Sala Marasino – one of the most finest Renaissance mansions and Pieve di Sant'Andrea – a charming and historic church.
We hope that this guide on the lakes of Northern Italy inspires you to travel and stay in one of them in your next retreat! If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Lombardy, check out Miramonti Corteno, our Alpine Hotel located in the Brescia Province and is situated between all the lakes (travelling to Como, Garda and Iseo is only about 2 hours by vehicle!).
For more blog posts about Northern Italy, check out our blog: