Discover the breathtaking Italian Lakes...
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It is easy to fall under the spell of Lake Como. At first it is the magnificent views that are so mesmerising. There’s the deep blue of the lake, grand villas half submerged by exquisite greenery, walls of oleander and poplar trees, boats dotted about in small harbours along the lakeside, chestnut forests covering the hills in the foreground and all this framed by the mountains of the Alps in the distance. But then there is a wealth of treasures that you stumble upon, enchanting medieval centres of lakeside towns, cafes and trattorias hidden in small harbours, markets laden with ripe fruit and vegetables, and small individual shops.
Como, the main town, is full of historical highlights and is still the silk capital of the world. Follow its western shores, all the resorts are linked by ferry, and dip in and out of little lakeside villages from Moltrasio to Tremezzo the location of the beautiful Villa Carlotta gardens with rare conifers and tropical plants and the setting for classical concerts during July and August. Further on is the elegant town of Menaggio with a stunning mountainous backdrop. Where Lake Como forms two branches you will find Bellagio right in the middle on a promontory. This little village is a network of cobble-stoned streets, and brightly painted houses with some magnificent grand hotels. Just outside is another gorgeous garden at Villa Melzi.
With a character as rich and diverse as its terrain, Lake Garda has been a long standing favourite of guests and for a good reason. With its vineyards nestled high in the surrounding verdant mountains, lemon and olive trees lining the streets and chocolate box harbour towns perched delicately on the lakefront, Lago di Garda is a cultural culmination of not just northern and southern Italy but also neighbouring Austria.
With azure waters akin to the Ligurian Riviera, imposing baroque architecture similar to that of Puglia's alabaster coastline or the grand towers of Firenze and charming cobbled lanes not unlike the shopping districts of Western Sicily, Lake Garda puts its own historical spin on Italy as we know it. With this in mind, it is not difficult to picture the many poets, writers and actors who have made Lake Garda their home over the years, including the likes of Maria Callas, James Joyce and Tennyson who was known to spend his summers in Sirmione enjoying a lemoncello on the lakefront. Each resort boasts its own exports making a boat trip around the lake akin to a world tour as you enjoy the sweetest lemoncello in Limone, the sharp and rich flavour of Gran Padana cheese in Desenzano and the succulent olives of Riva as well as the rich and velvety oil that comes from them.
Lake Maggiore’s rich and colourful past seems ever present as you explore and enjoy this spectacular lake with shores bordered with lush Mediterranean vegetation, and the backdrop of the Alps in the distance. Ever since Napoleon built the Simplon highway from Geneva to Milan, which ran to the shores of Lake Maggiore, it became part of the Grand Tour, a haven for Europeans and British pioneers. Seduced by its Mediterranean climate, they built imposing villas and beautiful gardens attracting aristocrats, poets, writers and composers of the time.It was the setting for Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” and it is easy to imagine his heroes fleeing from the Italian police in a rowing boat, trying to reach the Swiss border of the lake. Kings and Queens, writers, poets and composers such as Verdi, Wagner and Rossini have enjoyed the same panoramic views, nearby islands, exquisite botanical gardens, woodlands and tranquility that exist today.
Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake on the south side of the Alps. The west bank is in the Italian region of Piedmont and the right in Lombardy. In the north Lake Maggiore crosses the Swiss border into the canton of Ticino. It is 65 km long and 10 km across at its widest point between Pallanza and Stresa. In spring and early summer the shores are lined with oleander and the scent of orange blossom pervades Across from Lake Maggiore lie the Borromean Islands and Isola Bella. The view is spectacular from the magnificent Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees, a former villa now an archetypal Grand Hotel that is opulent yet understated despite its Murano chandeliers and elegant interior. It’s also just a short walk from the centre of Stresa.
Lake Iseo is the fourth largest lake in Northern Italy. The main town of Iseo is on the south shore, its medieval origins evident in the street patterns, arcaded shopping areas and peaceful squares. Lake Iseo’s most striking feature is Monte Isola island, the largest inhabited lake island in Europe. This is home to 11 small communities, traffic-free and easily reached by boat from the lakeside towns of Iseo and Sulzano – the perfect spot for a peaceful stroll. There is gentle walking too around the Torbiere del Sebino adjacent to Iseo Town. It’s a lakeside wetland nature reserve, a mecca for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The Franciacorta area to the South has a more rolling landscape and is famous for its sparkling wines.
The lake is rated as one of the cleanest in Europe and is usually pleasantly warm for a summer swim from one of the four beaches. It’s ideal for walkers and nature lovers with a range of trails through the woods that surround the lake. For a change, there’s also a regular bus service to Lake Garda. The majority of our hotels are located in the village of Pieve, located on the north-western shore. The resort has a characteristic historical centre, a large lakeside beach and is an attractive strategic base from which to explore or equally to unwind amidst scenic surroundings.
One of Italy’s cleanest lakes, Blue Flag accredited Lake Levico is an un-spoilt thermal spa resort known for its crystal clear waters. More peaceful and less developed than its glamorous neighbour Garda, Levico has lots to offer. Surrounded by mountains and lush woodlands, Lake Levico is a popular destination for hiking and cycling. From a gentle and shaded walk around the lake to scaling the nearby mountains to visit forts from WWI there are hikes to suit all abilities.
Levico is a cycling paradise due to the numerous mountain bike trails in the surrounding hills and mountains as well as the Valsugana cycle path which stretches 80km down the valley towards Bassano del Grappa. The Valsugana cycle path runs alongside a train line and so makes returning home easy. Ideal for guests looking to relax, Levico Terme is a historic, thermal resort and as such offers a chance to rest and recuperate; from mineral filled water, thermal spas and lakeside beaches to the town’s beautiful arboretum.