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Lakes & Mountains

Destination Guide: The Italian Lakes


The Italian Lake District is quite possibly Italy’s most desirable destination. Both Ezra Pound and Alfred Tennyson wrote about the Italian Lakes in their poetry, and to this day the area upholds its prominence as one of the most stylish holiday resorts in the world. Attracting fashionable crowds with a lust for life, the stunning lakes of Garda, Como, Maggiore, Lugano and Iseo provide a lavish setting for the rich and famous.

In the northern region of the country, these great Lombard lakes form the soul of the region but for the curious traveller the Lombardy region has so much more to offer than just outstanding natural beauty. Discover the Swiss-Italia charm of the Lombardy Alps, taste the distinctively hearty dishes of the north, and explore the rich lifestyle of the Milanese. Wherever Lombardy takes you, luxury won’t be far behind.

 

Getting There


Lombardy is very well serviced with airports; the three major airports for international flights are City of Milan Airport (also named Malpensa International Airport), Milano Linate Airport, and Il Caravaggio International Airport (also known as Bergamo Orio Al Serio Airport).
City of Milan Airport has a direct Malpensa Express train link into the city on Terminal 1 and Milano Linate Airport has a bus connection to Milan or Lake Como.

Getting Around Lombardy


No doubt you’ll want to explore the five great lakes of the region and to do that, you will need to be able to get around easily. Many tourists like to travel by taxi, especially if they have a lot of luggage. But there are also bus and train links which are safe and convenient to use.

The Milan Metro


To get around the city, the easiest way to travel is by Metro. Many tourists feel confident enough to use this as their main mode of transportation. But make sure you ask your hotel if they know of any Metro strikes as these can happen somewhat regularly.

 

Lakes & Mountains Properties


 

Villa Argegno

From £2368/night
Star Rating:
A stylish villa with opulent interiors situated in an idyllic location on the banks of Lake Como.
6 Beds
6 Bathrooms
11 Guests

Villa Arona

Star Rating:
Ideally located only 1 Km (uphill) from the village of Meina - a peaceful lakeside town with cobbled streets on the western shore of Lake Maggiore.
4 Beds
3 Bathrooms
8 Guests

Villa Aurora

From £829/night
Star Rating:
Villa Aurora is a contemporary villa with pool and 6 Air Conditioned bedrooms.
6 Beds
4 Bathrooms
12 Guests

Villa Baveno

From £1048/night
Star Rating:
Situated in an elevated position on the Baveno hillside - this idyllic property offers stunning lake views and a tranquil base from which to explore the best of Lake Maggiore.
5 Beds
7 Bathrooms
12 Guests

Villa Bianca

From £887/night
Star Rating:
Located on the shore of the lake between the famous Villa d’Este hotel in Cernobbio and George Clooney’s residence in Laglio, Villa Bianca is a historical villa with lake access, swimming pool, private mooring and easy access to the village.
4 Beds
4 Bathrooms
8 Guests

Villa Colico

From £994/night
Star Rating:
A very special villa situated on the North Eastern side of Lake Como.
6 Beds
5 Bathrooms
12 Guests

Villa Cremia

From £631/night
Star Rating:
A spacious, modern villa with fantastic panoramic lake and mountain views.
6 Beds
4 Bathrooms
12 Guests

Villa Laglio

From £682/night
Star Rating:
Located on the west shore of Lake Como with direct access to the shore and its' own private dock.
4 Beds
3 Bathrooms
9 Guests

Villa Lesa

From £1059/night
Star Rating:
A superb, single storey waterfront villa with direct access to a private beach on the shares of Lake Maggiore.
4 Beds
4 Bathrooms
8 Guests

Villa Lingeri

From £2143/night
Star Rating:
This exceptional villa sits on a private estate on the western shore of Lake Como.
5 Beds
3 Bathrooms
10 Guests

Villa Lombardia

From £742/night
Star Rating:
The location is amazing: Villa Lombardia sits directly on the shores of Lake Maggiore with access to a private beach and panoramic views towards the mountains.
4 Beds
4 Bathrooms
8 Guests

Villa Maggiore

From £906/night
Star Rating:
Designed in the 1960s by a famous architect - Villa Maggiore is situated in a privileged position only 300 metres from the shores of Lake Maggiore (onthe western side) and 1 Km from the village of Dormelletto.The interiors are spacious and light, tastefully furnished with a varied range of colours, although white dominates.
6 Beds
5 Bathrooms
12 Guests

Villa Maroni

From £559/night
Star Rating:
An exclusive hillside property situated on an olive oil producing estate only 3 Km from the lakeside and town.
3 Beds
3 Bathrooms
6 Guests

Villa Meina

From £214/night
Star Rating:
A modern villa situated only 1 Km from Meina, a peaceful lakeside town on the western shore of Lake Maggiore.
5 Beds
3 Bathrooms
10 Guests

Villa Menaggio

From £1039/night
Star Rating:
Situated in a privileged location with direct access to the beach this wonderful lakefront property is located only ten kilometers north of Menaggio - on the northwest shore of Lake Como.
8 Beds
8 Bathrooms
14 Guests

Villa San Feliciano

From £428/night
Star Rating:
Spectacular panoramic views, elegant interiors, modern comforts, an infinity pool with panoramic views across Lake Trasimeno: welcome to Villa San Feliciano.
3 Beds
2 Bathrooms
6 Guests
 

 

Top Ten Things to Do

The largest of the famous five, Lake Garda is the perfect place to start your journey. Not only is it the largest lake in Italy, but it also covers three of its beautiful provinces (Brescia, Verona and Trentino), giving you plenty of ground to explore. With the intense blue hues of its water and beautiful transparency, Lake Garda is the perfect holiday destination for swimmers and bathers. Conveniently located between the two iconic cities of Venice and Milan, it’s also a perfect base for shopping daytrips.

From Lake Garda, you can drive to the beautiful city of Venice in less than 2 hours. Although there is much to see in Venice (and we are certainly not saying that a daytrip can do the city justice), you can tick off some of the major sights. Head to St. Mark’s Square which is bustling with charm in the day and dazzling at night, go and see the famous Rialto Bridge, hop on the Vaparetto water bus to the islands of Lido and Murano, and soak up some of the stunning architecture such as the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo or the Biblioteca Marciana.

Overlooked by snow-topped Gringa Mountains and the quaint commune of Bellagio, this striking ‘Y’ shaped lake offers a peaceful and tranquil retreat for holidaymakers. Take a ferry trip around the lake and stop off at the towns Bellagio, Verenna, Menaggio and Cadenabbia. Bellagio is the most popular destination and here you will find some fantastic hotels, shops and restaurants.

Stresa is a charming town which sits on the shores of the wonderful Lake Maggiore – and this makes a great base for exploring the vast blue lake. Shared also with neighbouring Switzerland, Lake Maggiore is Italy’s second largest lake; over 64 kilometres long and up to 5 kilometres wide. To catch the best sunsets, head to Stresa’s Hotel La Palma Rooftop Bar where you can relax with a Prosecco and enjoy a panoramic view.

If the big five aren’t enough, take to Orta San Giulio, a small commune and promontory by the shores of Orta Lake. This small but pretty body of water is lit up by the night lights of Orta San Giulio, and the town is charmingly built on slopes. The lake and the town are both relatively untouched by tourist footfall so you are guaranteed some peace and some spectacular sights.

Situated on the border with Switzerland, many travellers are tempted by a few nights over in Switzerland’s Canton of Ticino. With much of the lake located in the Swiss region of Lugano (its namesake), a visit to this region will give you a fantastic fusion of two nations and two cultures.

As the less visited side to Italy’s Lake District, Lake Iseo is a picturesque retreat for those in search of a little paradise. Dotted with elevated balconies of charming hotels and restaurants, the Iseo shoreline is sure to give you a fantastic view high in the hills. Take the Taste Train Tour through Franciacorta and Valcamonica, walk the ‘Antique Roman Trail’ or take an island trip to Lido Belvedere for its beautiful beaches.

Close to Lake Garda and Iseo is the spectacular city of Brescia. Capital of the Province of Brescia, Brescia City is a bustling centre of history, culture and nightlife. Eating and drinking here is a true delight and as well as some of the most prestigious restaurants, the city also offers many food and drink events throughout the year. Visit the Santa Giulia Museum, stroll the Botanical Garden Andrew Heller, visit the Castello Di Padernello and the city’s cathedrals, or enjoy biking and trekking around the lakes.

CFor the ultimate glam, step into the opulent and extravagant world of Milan. Nightlife here is a glitzy affair; a magnet for the rich and fashionable. And a Milan shopping experience is just as dazzling for those who love designer labels. Frequent the Golden Rectangle for the likes of Armani, Prada and Versace – and be sure to visit Quadrilatero della Moda for some people-watching and street-style spotting.

Giuseppe Piermarini’s grand theatre is one of Milan’s biggest features and has also be named “the most famous theatre in the world”. Neo-classical and so very typically Milanese, any visitor to Milan should not miss this truly ornate attraction.

Weather


Northern Lombardy is shielded by the Alps – so despite the severe weather further north, Lombardy and the lakes area are blessed with a lovely Mediterranean climate much like the southern parts of Italy. Summer can be hot in Lombardy, with highs reaching up to 30°C, whilst much of spring is comfortably mild (around 18°C in April, 22°C in May and 26°C in June). Winters can be as cool as 5°C but rarely lower than that – and winters are comparatively short to other areas of Europe.
Rainfall tends to be higher in autumn time, with a short bout of it happening in spring. But for the most part of the year, Lombardy and the lakes will offer great weather to the holidaymaker.

Regional Food & Wine


Taking inspiration from many different cultures, Lombardian cuisine can be described as extravagant or even exotic for Italian standards. Traditional recipes have always used large amounts of butter and cream, with a slow conversion to using olive oil in modern times, but generally many dishes are found to be rich, indulgent and unapologetically decadent.

 

Classic Lombardy Dishes


A well-known dish in Milan, one which is evident of this rich indulgence, is the sumptuous Risotto All Milanese. An opulent concoction of saffron and dairy butter and finished with Parmigiano Reggiano, this risotto is a must for anyone frequenting the spectacular city. Other risotto dishes include Risotto Alla Certosina (with frogs legs and crayfish) and Risotto Alla Pilota (with Italian sausage).
But the use of rice stretches far beyond risottos. Rice in this region is a popular addition to soups such as their heart minestrone soup. And just as important as rice is polenta; a key ingredient which can be baked, grilled or fried.

Wines of Lombardia


It’s probably no surprise that the core of the wine-making in Lombardia focuses on sparkling wines – a drink for the rich and glamorous. Franciacorta DOCG is the best known of the sparkling wines and has often been compared to champagne as a delicious tasting alternative. For those who don’t enjoy the bubbles, red wine production is also flourishing in Valtellina where the reds are extremely popular with Swiss buyers. Head to Oltrepò Pavese for some tasty rose and non-sparkling whites.

 

Recommended Restaurants


Wining and dining in the Lombardy is not designed for the faint-hearted, for even a light lunch can be a glamorous affair. But look a little closer and you will be able to find a diverse choice, whether you want upscale, elegant or simple and traditional. Here are some of our recommended restaurants in the region.

 

Giacomo (Seafood Restaurant)


There are three things which may stun you at Milan’s Giacomo; the mosaic-filled décor, the exquisite food, or the similarly exquisite crowd. Don’t be surprised if you end up rubbing shoulders with Giorgio Armani (he’s said to be a regular here) and everything from the scampi to the delicate zucchini flowers are just to die for.

Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia


This upscale restaurant (complete with tasting menu) dates back to over 50 years of service. Bringing Tuscan cuisine to northern Italy, Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia dazzles as one of Milan’s finest food establishments.

Armani / Nobu


For utterly refined Japanese cuisine, Armani/Nobu is a luxury seeker’s paradise. Fused together with a Latin American influence and plenty of high Italian fashion, this is the place to be spotted. The sushi will not disappoint and neither will the ground floor cocktail lounge.

 

La Rucola


This wonderful seafood establishment by Lake Garda is located right next to Sirmione’s Castle, so expect nothing less than breath-taking views with your dinner. La Rucola offers a truly creative menu including plenty of seafood and meat to choose from.

La Sosta (Traditional Lombardian)


Found in the bustling city of Brescia, La Sosta is an authentic gem found amongst the endless extravagances of the restaurant industry. Creative menus are great but if you are looking for an authentic taste of Lombardy, La Sosta is not to be missed. Prices range from 25 Euros to 70 Euros.

Il Gatto Nero


This is the perfect place to get an unbeatable view of Lake Como. This popular restaurant has a lavish balcony setting or similarly great views from indoors due to the large open windows. Enjoy the classic Risotto All Milanese, the Filetto con Aceto Balsamico or the wild game sauce pasta.

 

Annual Events


Lombardy is a vast region, one which should visited at least three of four times in your life to really get a flavour of the area, its culture and its people. Here are some of the region’s best known events which may coincide with your travels.

 

Festa del Naviglio (June)


Visit Milan in the first 10 days of June and you can catch the wonders of the Festa del Naviglio, a festival designed to celebrate the arts of the city. Concerts will be held in the evenings and processions will take place during the day. Enjoy street performers and street food, and shop for something unique as artists line the market streets with their paintings, crafts and wares.

Feast of San Giovanni (June)


This annual festival (held on Comacina Island) brings Lake Como to life every June with pretty floating lights and a spectacular fireworks display. In memory of the historical fire of 1169 AD, this festival brings together music, dancing and plenty of food for the locals to enjoy.

 

La Festa del Torrone (October)


Celebrating the sweet delight of nougat, La Festa del Torrone brings endless stalls and nougat tasting opportunities to the city of Cremona. Ideal for anyone with a sweet tooth, the festival stalls also offer breads, cakes and other treats. The theme of the festival also includes a re-enactment Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti’s wedding back in 1441.

Milan Christmas Market (December)


Just like many large European cities, Milan hosts an annual Christmas Market. The weather is colder but still comfortably mild around this time so don’t expect snowfall (but do bring a coat and wrap up warm). With or without a white Christmas, the spirit of the season certainly shows in the magical lights and all the exciting Christmas stalls. Taste the decadent breads, cakes and pastries as you walk around enjoying the festive atmosphere.

 

 
 

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