Whether you favour the grandeur of the tourist favourites, or the peace of off-the beaten-track locations, there is a perfect lakeside destination for you
Photos by iStock and Jane Keightley
Lake Maggiore is one of Italy’s beloved northern lakes. The Borromeo family has dominated three islands on the lake since the 16th and 17th centuries: Bella, Madre and Pescatori. On Bella wander the sumptuous palace and pyramid of terraced gardens; on Madre explore the lush, exotic gardens around the family’s summer villa; and on Pescatori enjoy a plate of fried lake fish on the shore of this working fisherman’s island. Back on land, the cobbled streets and squares of Stresa hold their charm from the days of the Grand Tour.
One of Italy’s largest lakes, Garda boasts a winning combination of stunning scenery, great swimming and watersports, pretty towns and several appealing islands, such as Isola dei Conigli (‘Island of the Rabbits’).
Tucked away to the west behind Lake Maggiore, pretty Orta is the smallest of the northern lakes and is often deemed the most exclusive. To get the best from your visit to this little gem, base yourself in exquisite Orta San Giulio, which is packed with quaint shops and hotels.
More tranquil than Garda, but no less beautiful, and just as popular as a holiday destination, the banks of Como are also home to many of the world’s super-wealthy. The scenery is rugged and towns like Bellagio, Menaggio and Como are rightly world famous.
Trasimeno in Umbria is a popular place to holiday, but retains a sense of tranquility along its shores. The area around the lake and its shores is protected, as it is rich in nature, and the landscape around the lake is dotted with historic castles.