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Italian Lakes see + do

The Italian Lakes all offer similar distractions—lakeside villas and gardens, gorgeous landscapes, and the tranquil life of small towns—but on different scales. Lake Como is the largest and most visited of the lakes. The town of Como on the lake's southwestern tip is the unofficial capital of the district and generally the first place you hit coming north from Milan or Malpensa airport. Visitors flock to Lake Maggiore mainly to wander the villas, gardens, and fishing villages of the Isole Borromee, a trio of islands just offshore from Stresa. Lake Garda marks the eastern edge of the district and offers Roman ruins on its southern end and some of Europe's best windsurfing around Riva del Garda at the north end. Smaller Lake Iseo and Lake Orta have fewer visitable villas but also far smaller crowds.

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Duomo di Como, Como

Two thousand years of Como history are depicted on the delightfully crowded facade of this 14th-century cathedral. You'll see sculptures of the usual saints and...more

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Forum Museum, Omegna

Everyone knows that Italy makes some of the best high-design housewares in the world, but few people realize that the top names are based in this unassuming...more

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Grotte di Catullo, Sirmione

These first-century B.C. ruins in Sirmione are what's left of an ancient Roman private estate. The well-preserved complex, romantically overgrown with groves of...more

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Il Vittoriale, Gardone Riviera

The life of Gabriele D'Annunzio, Italy's favorite poet-adventurer, was as flamboyant as the kitschy Art Nouveau villa where he spent his final days. During...more

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Isola di San Giulio, Orta San Giulio

The "capital" of Lake Orta is little more than the medieval village of Orta San Giulio. The town's cobblestone streets and main square are charming, but the...more

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The Isole Boromee, Lake Maggiore

The Borromeo clan has controlled much of the Maggiore region since Renaissance times and still owns most of the land on this trio of islands off the shore of...more

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Lake Como

Como is the most beautiful of the Italian lakes. The touristy-yet-delightful town of Bellagio, located where the main body of water meets its eastern Lecco...more

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Lake Garda

Garda's biggest selling point is its balmy climate: The lake acts as a gigantic solar panel; a ring of mountains stores the heat while winds help keep...more

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Lake Iseo

Little Iseo is perhaps the prettiest of all the lakes (if you ignore the quarry that mars part of the western shore). The small towns dotted along the coast...more

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Lake Maggiore

Despite its stately bearing, grand hotels, formal gardens, and fringe of mountains, Maggiore is not highly rated by the lake cognoscenti. To unlock the...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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