Italian Lakes Travel Information
Whilst sharing the same dramatic
backdrops of mountains reflected in crystal clear waters, each of these
beautiful lakes has its own identity and atmosphere.
north into Switzerland where the mountains plunge directly into the
lake, Maggiore has a wild, natural beauty with breathtaking panoramic
views that stretch for miles.
Romantic Lake Como is smaller and spectacularly
encircled by mountains whilst Lake Garda offers a dramatic contrasting
landscape dominated by the breathtaking Dolomites in the North and more
gentle plains in the South.
Italian Lakes Travel and Flight
The most enjoyable way to explore the
lakes is by using the efficient ferry and hydrofoil networks that
operate on them. The larger lakeside towns are also served by regular
Lake Como - Visit
Como town's historic centre and magnificent cathedral.
Arguably the prettiest lakeside town on the lake.
Lake Maggiore -
Visit the Borromeon Islands, in particular the famous Isola Bella.
Lake Garda - Stroll along the narrow, winding streets of the old town of
pretty Malcesine, dominated by the 13th century Scaligeri castle.
Visit the picturesque lakeside town of Bardolino, with cafes,
restaurants and shops scattered throughout the narrow streets.
Visit the English gardens
of Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, Lake Como.
Visit the beautiful gardens
at the Rockefeller foundation in Bellagio, lake Como for fantastic views
of the 3 'legs' of the lake.
Visit the Roman spa town of Sirmione at
Lake Garda, with winding streets and 13th century fortress.
Hill walking and boating is available on
all lakes. Enjoy the many bars and restaurants of the Lakes offering a
wide variety of cuisine.
Many of the small lakeside towns offer a
range of shops and boutiques.
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Now one of the most popular resorts on the
lake, this former medieval fishing village has been of strategic
importance over the centuries, under the control of a series of
conquerors including the Romans, Goths and Venetians (its name comes
from "warda guardia", meaning sentry). This long history is still
apparent in the delightful old buildings, archways and alleys, small
squares and maze of narrow streets, although they are now full of
boutiques, cafes and souvenir shops. The pedestrianised, tree-lined
lakeside promenade also has a vast selection of cafes and restaurants,
with a sideshow of street entertainers and small art exhibitions. As a
result of the resort's popularity, tourist accommodation has spread to
the small village of Costermano, located in the hills behind Garda and
once a favoured holiday location of the Italian nobility.
Famous for the locally produced
"Bardolino" red wine, with around 70 vineyards in the vicinity, this
charming town boasts a lively, pedestrianised old town, well-preserved
buildings and a well-maintained yachting marina. A lakeside promenade
stretches the length of town and can get very busy during high season
and on Sundays.
A fairly large
resort, Livigno was originally 3 separate villages – Santa Maria, San
Antonio and San Rocco – which have now formed into a single entity. It
has been a duty-free zone for since Napoleonic times and is therefore
very commercialised, with a good range of shops, hotels and restaurants.
Despite this, the resort manages to retain its remote feel, living up to
its nickname of "Little Tibet".
charming town with narrow, steep, cobbled streets clustered around the
almost complete 13th-century Castle Scaligero, which perches on a sheer
rock face overlooking the lake. At the heart of the resort is a busy
little harbour where cafes and restaurants line the water's edge. The
rest of the lakefront is filled with villas and hotels, unless you go ¾
ml out of town in either direction. The main road runs above the town
and only limited traffic is allowed into certain streets, which
nevertheless get very crowded with sightseers during peak season.
Although tourism didn't take off until
the 1950s, the first spa opened here as early as 1900, on the site now
occupied by the Grand Hotel Terme; nowadays, Sirmione is well
established as a spa resort with several hotels and therapy centres
offering health and beauty treatments. Stretching along a peninsula for
2½ mls and only 100 yds wide at its narrowest point, Sirmione can be
loosely divided into the more work-a-day, largely low-rise residential
area (Colombare), situated at the southern "mainland" end of the
peninsula, and the N end (shown in our resort map), where most of
tourist and historic interest is located. This includes a picturesque,
compact old town dominated by a spectacular 14th-century castle,
scattered villas and hotels in luxuriant gardens, and the atmospheric
remains of a vast Roman villa at the most northerly tip. The old town –
with its narrow streets, small piazzas, arched stone doorways,
galleries, cafes, restaurants and ice-cream parlours – is popular with
day-trippers arriving on regular ferries, but it still manages to
maintain a relaxed ambience. Except for a modern marina, building work
has tended towards renovation rather than construction, and motor
traffic is strictly controlled on the promontory (visitors need a hotel
reservation to bring in their cars) so strolling through the quiet,
shady lanes is still a delight.
Limone sul Garda
A very attractive, compact former fishing village that has managed to
retain much of its old-world charm, in some part due to the fact that it
was only connected to its neighbours by road and tunnels in 1932. It is
famous for its olive oil and lemons, although its name actually comes
from the Latin for "border" (limen) rather than the citrus fruit. The
main, older part of town – with its narrow, twisting, cobbled streets
lined with shops – stretches from the tiny old port (Porto Vecchio) in
the N to the new port (Porto Nuovo) in the S, with a pedestrianised
lakeside promenade running between the two. From this main hub,
development spreads mainly S-wards into the hills, with much of the
accommodation situated in this area rather than around the old town.
Desenzano del Garda
The most important
commercial centre and largest town on the lake, Desenzano stretches
around a wide bay for around 2 mls, with an attractive, tree-lined
promenade lining the lake front for much of that distance. The town was
founded by the Romans and the remains of a 2nd-century Roman villa bear
witness to its antiquity. In the 15th to 18th centuries, the town
benefited from prosperous Venetian rule, the influence of which can
still be seen today around the picturesque Venetian-style old port
(Porto Vecchio), full of fishing craft. The upper part of the centre is
dominated by a 14th-century castle while most of the shops and cafes are
situated in 2 extensive arcaded 19th-century piazzas. The general
atmosphere is more like that of a prosperous market town than a holiday
resort, with fountains and statues of local heroes dotted around, swans
and ducks on the lake, and a bustling weekly market day. Many of the
narrow residential streets have been closed to traffic and it suffers
less intrusion by day-trippers than most lake resorts.
An upmarket watering hole since the mid-19th century,
Stresa is a pleasant, colourful little town owing much of its
fashionable reputation to its beautiful setting: facing the famous Isola
Bella, it is surrounded by lush vegetation with snow-capped mountains in
the background. Hugging the lake shore for around 1 ml, the town is
compact with some interesting old buildings, shops and cafes, with the
lively, wharf-side Piazza Marconi at its hub. It is unfortunate that a
relatively busy main road runs along the lakefront.
A fascinating, quiet little resort of cobbled
alleys, flights of steep steps and attractive pastel-shaded, red-roofed
buildings, with an 11th-century church rising above the rooftops. There
is no main road through the village – so very little traffic – and the
long, flat lakefront is ideal for a lazy stroll with plenty of cafes
scattered along its length. For a full appreciation of the town's
beauty, it's best viewed from a boat on the lake.