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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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Lake Orta

Soft morning mists are a way of life on this pocket-size lake, just eight miles long and under two miles wide. Orta has a single, must-stay base town of Orta...more

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Rocca Borromeo, Angera

This glowering Lombard castle was started in the 700s, though most of what you see was rebuilt between the 12th and 14th centuries by the Visconti dynasty of...more

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Santa Caterina del Sasso, Lake Maggiore

A local 13th-century merchant, drowning during a shipwreck on Lake Maggiore, prayed to St. Catherine of Alexandria for help. She came through, and he dutifully...more

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Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo

This Baroque villa built in 1743 is best known for its art, a magnificent collection that includes neoclassical sculptures by Canova and Tadolini as well as...more

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Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi, Bellagio

Villa Serbelloni is a Renaissance villa built in the 15th century and surrounded by dense woodlands and gardens. The property's summer villa down by the lake...more

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Water Sports on Lake Garda, Lake Garda

Water sports fans flock to the northern end of Lake Garda Riva in the summer, when stiff morning winds combine with afternoon gusts to turn it into a mecca for...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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