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. Check out the best in villas in the Italian Lakes with Bridgewater.
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.
A stylish villa with opulent interiors situated in an idyllic location on the banks of Lake Como. This prestigious property is surrounded by a 3.000 sq.m. fenced sculpture garden with lawns, Mediterranean plants, flowers and fruit trees. Stunning lake & mountain views. Private swimming pool (can be heated), shower, Air-con, w-ifi, full time staff for cleaning, concierge and management. Top level villa in a beautiful location.. Walk to town and beaches, Milan within 1 hour drive.
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. Magical views of the lake and mountains beyond from the pool and living area. Cosy modern interiors. Beautiful gardens. The property benefits from air-con and wi-fi. Tennis in nearby village. Malpensa airport less than 45 Km drive
Villa Aurora is a contemporary villa with pool and 6 Air Conditioned bedrooms. Situated on a scenic hill within walking distance from the centre of Meina (400m). The beach club with tennis is 750 meters away. Elegantly furnished with panoramic view over the lake. Wifi throughout the whole house and Malpensa airport only 39km. Bus stop and shuttle stop to Malpensa airport is only 1km from the house.
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. The beautiful villa was built in the 1940s and is surrounded by a 20,000 square-meter park encompassing manicured lawns and pine woods. Recently renovated the villa offers stylish accommodation with bright, spacious interiors of a high standard. There is a grand piano in the lounge area for our musical guests and a professional kitchen for those who enjoy cooking. The charming village of Baveno with its restaurants and local shops is only 1 km away (uphill), Stresa is 5 Km and Milan Malpensa airport is 1 hour by car. Air-conditioned bedrooms, a wellness area with gym and jacuzzi - massages can be arranged, wi-fi and apple TV. Swimming pool can be heated - perfect for year round rentals. Welcome dinner and welcome basket upon arrival.
A newly-restored villa which offers high standards and lies on a majestic hillside boasting a sublime position which provides great views over the outstanding countryside and out to the Lake Trasimeno. A stylish pool which provides dramatic views all the way to the lake through the quaint rolling hills. This is the ideal place for total relaxation in an opulent setting being surrounded by the beauties of nature. Only 500m away there is a café and a small grocery shop which can be easily reached by foot in a few-minute walk. Within a few-minute drive it is possible to reach either the lake side with all its villages and a large town centre.
A spacious, modern villa with fantastic panoramic lake and mountain views. Villa Cremia is perched on the hillside of Lake Como's west bank 10 km north of Menaggio. Peaceful location yet ideally situated within walking distance a grocery shop, beach and restaurant. Indoor jacuzzi and sauna. Billiards table. Indoor jacuzzi and sauna. Wi-fi. Activities in the surrounding area include: hiking, tennis, golf, swimming, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and water sports.
EXPERIENCE VILLA: Owner offers guests complimentary guided tour to the Forte Montecchio Nord di Colico - The best preserved Fort of the First World War
Located on the west shore of Lake Como with direct access to the shore and its' own private dock. Laglio is a spectacular villa which originally dates back to the 19th century - the property has been recently renovated to offer stylish interiors and beautiful lake views - especially from the billiard room! Ideally situated within walking distance of the local village (shops and restaurants 300 metres). All bedrooms benefit from air-con. The intimate garden is furnished with chairs and sun beds and provides the perfect spot from which to admire the lake - surrounded by a century old Lebanon Cedar tree, and Olea fragrance which scent the air.
A superb, single storey waterfront villa with direct access to a private beach on the shares of Lake Maggiore. This luxury villa benefits from all the amenities which make for a memorable holiday in the Italian lake district: Air conditioning, pool which can be heated, private beach and dock, fitness room, tennis court (shared with the owner) and 9 hole golf course. Guests can also use bikes, canoes and the sailing dinghy boat, as well as a motor boat (no license needed) offered by the owner. Upon request it is possible to book an excursion with the owner’s helicopter or a cruise with the owner’s 15 metre vintage sailing boat and 12 metres vintage wooden motorboat used for the recent famous royal weddings of the Borromeo’s family. Walk to village with restaurants, grocery shop and bus stop. Located between Arona and Stresa (4Km from both). Additional independent guest house with 2 beds kitchen and bathroom is available to sleep 10.
This exceptional villa sits on a private estate on the western shore of Lake Como. Originally built in the 1940s by a famous architect - the property has been classified as an historical monument by the Italian Ministry of Culture. Today Villa Lingeri offers its guests an exclusive base on the shores of Lake Como with stylish interiors - overlooking one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Lakeshore, restaurant & shops walking distance. Fitness area with sauna & jacuzzi. Air-con & concierge service. Sixth bedroom available at an additional cost.
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. This stunning modern home has all amenities needed for a relaxing holiday. Floor to ceiling glass sliding doors infuse the living areas with light and allow guests to take in the view across the water. The villa benefits from air-con, wi-fi, fitness room, sauna and jacuzzi. Plenty of outdoor space for relaxing and dining 'al fresco'. Golf course only 7 km away! Watersports and sailing school only 1 km. Malpensa airport only 28 km. Ideally situated within walking distance of the village of Ispra. Pool can be heated upon request.
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. The large panoramic terrace offers breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Spacious, bright interiors which are tastefully furnished - the ideal holiday home for large parties. Air-con in some bedrooms. Wifi. Games room for children. Ideally located walking distance to village. Pool can be heated upon request
An elegant villa with panoramic views and private lake access. Swimming pool overlooking the lake with stunning views. Ideally situated only 7 Km from the centre of Como. Small village within walking distance. Air-con and panoramic jacuzzi. A beautiful setting for weddings and special celebrations.
A stunning waterfront villa with contemporary interiors and a magnificent view of Bellagio, Varenna and the mountains surrounding Lake Como. Luxury interiors infused with light due to the huge windows and bi-fold doors which open on to the lake view. This is a truly unique a property in an exclusive and highly sought after location. The Bellagio promontory can be enjoyed from every corner - especially the roof terrace! The stunning private pool is heated and there are plenty of spaces deidcated to chilling our and enjoying the view and dining 'al fresco'. This amazing villa also benefits from air-con, wi-fi, a wellness area, Hammam, Sauna, Massage room, Gym (Technogym equipment), Private mooring
business corner, Wine and Cigar cellar, Cinema room (projector) with Apple TV and high-end entertainment system.
Top Ten Things To Do – Your Italian Lakes Villa Holiday
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. Read more.
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. Read more.
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. It’s the second largest of the Italian lakes, it’s west bank sits in the Italian region of Piedmont and its right in Lombardy. Read more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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