The renowned lakes in the north represent an unwaveringly popular region to buy a home. As a result, property here doesn’t come cheap, but you can still find value for money, and holiday rental potential is strong. But Italy has more places to consider for lakeside living. Look to the central lakes, and to Sardinia, for understated destinations which may offer rather more for your money.
1. Lake Garda
Lake Garda is the largest of the lakes, and draws visitors from Italy and beyond. It is popular for families and offers a host of water sports, several pebbly beaches and well-served, thriving towns and villages around its edges. The southern end of the lake sees the most tourist activity, while the north boasts a more dramatic landscape and pricier property, with good access to the mountains for skiers.
2. Lake Como
Lake Como ranks alongside Garda in Italy’s favourite lake stakes. It is, in general, less crowded than Garda, but still attracts a steady crowd of visitors, and is particularly popular as a weekend getaway for wealthy Milanese (and celebrities). Its most famous and picturesque spots, such as Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna, are situated along the middle shores of the lake. The town of Como and southern villages provide good alternative areas.
3. Lake Maggiore
Pretty, peaceful Lake Maggiore boasts a diverse landscape, gently sloping at the southern edges and more rugged further north. The shoreline is elegant, dotted with historic villas and gardens, and the whole lake emits an air of peace and gentility, perfect for getting away from it all. As with all lake properties in Italy, prices tend to fall as you move away from the edges of the water.
4. Lake Orta
Lake Orta is believed to be the remains of a much larger lake that has now drained into nearby Lake Maggiore. This is Maggiore’s little sister, and prices here, and between the two lakes, tend to be lower than on the larger lake to the east.
5. Lake Trasimeno
Lake Trasimeno still offers surprisingly well-priced homes, particularly in some of the smaller villages a short distance from the lake. It is a rural, tranquil place that is popular for its watersports, fishing, cycling and nature. The most desirable towns include Monte del Lago, Castiglione del Lago and Passignano.
6. Lake Bolsena
Lake Bolsena offers a good focus for current property searches as this area is gaining in popularity, with both Italian holiday makers and foreign tourists, for its tranquil vistas and quiet country roads. The area also has a rich historical and archaeological heritage, and development around the shores of has been sensitively and sympathetically handled.
7. Lake Bracciano
South of Lake Bolsena is Lake Bracciano, which, with is its surroundings, has recently been brought under the protection of a new regional park. Because it is nearer to Rome, prices tend to be a bit higher than at Bolsena.
8. Lake Omodeo
Sardinia’s Lake Omodeo is actually an artificial lake that was constructed as a reservoir (at the time the largest in Europe) in the 1920s. That fact does not detract from its beauty.