Italian Lake District Tours & Vacation Packages
There are four major lakes in the Italian lakes district, Garda, Maggiore, Como and Lugano. Each one has its own individual character. What they do have in common is their geographical location – the northern part of Italy. While on an Italy vacation, they offer a pleasant contrast to the cultural destinations for which Italy is known.
Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian lakes and possibly the most beautiful while on a trip to Italy. It is roughly situated between Verona and Milan and is 52 kilometres/32 miles in length from north to south. The northern part of the lake is narrower and is surrounded by mountains. The lake has numerous small islands and five main ones of which the largest is Isola del Garda. Around the perimeter of the lake are several resort towns offering accommodation and dining facilities. Frequent ferry services ply between the main towns of the lake. These include Sirmione in the south a preserved historical town famous for its thermal springs. One of the main historical landmarks of Sirmione is the Grottoes of Catullus (Grotte di Catullo), a Roman site. There is also a 13th Century castle surrounded by a moat and which houses a small museum with locally found artifacts from the Roman era as well as medieval times. Interestingly, the only land access to the old town is via the castle drawbridge.
Riva del Garda, the second largest town on the lake, has an enviable location at the top end of Lake Garda with mountains rising on either side of the town. It is a town which is really a place in which to stroll along its winding streets or relax on its waterfront consisting of a harbour, park and beach. However, there is a historic quarter which includes a fortress, complete with a museum displaying paintings and historical exhibits.
Desenzano is a major tourist centre in the southwest region of Lake Garda, probably due to the wonderful views of the Alps. It has three beaches and offers a lively nightlife. It also has a number of winding historic streets which run between the town's hilltop castle and the lakeshore below. There is a harbour and a marina.
Two other resort towns are Malcesine and Limone. Malcesine is the main town of the upper lake and one of the most picturesque on Lake Garda where you can take a cable car up to the summit of the Monte Baldo ridge with its fabulous panoramic views of the surrounding area. Limone is located northwest of the lake and sits on a narrow strip of land at the foot of some high rocky cliffs. Although popular on Ital;y vacations, it has preserved its small-town charm and its picturesque, historic centre, old houses and narrow streets. It is a good place to take hikes around the surrounding countryside and along the lakeshore.
Lake Maggiore is the second-largest and the longest of the Italian Lakes, 65 kilometres/40 miles in length and stretching into Switzerland. Regular boat services link both the towns and the islands in the lake. The principal resort town on the lake is Stresa which tends to attract an upscale clientele on Italy vacations due to its chic shops, restaurants and hotels. The lakeside promenade offers views of the nearby Borromean Islands located in the centre of the lake. One of these islands is Isola Bella with its summer palace which has a collection of tapestries, furniture and musical instruments. The big attraction, however, is the beautiful Italian-style garden. Another of the Borromean Islands is Isola Madre with a villa and landscaped gardens. The villa has a collection of marionettes, 17th Century paintings and porcelain. The third island is Isola Dei Pescatori which is simply a fishing centre and home to local families. One interesting excursion is to take the cable car from Stresa to Monte Mottarone for fantastic views of not only the lake but of the Alps.
Lake Como is a rival to Lake Garda as the most beautiful of all the lakes on an Italy vacation. There are some delightful resort towns gracing its shores. Again, ferry boats serving the lake allow for easy access to most resorts. Bellagio is a charming, small town located on a promontory with a waterfront promenade. An attraction of Bellagio is its two beautiful gardens at the Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi. Como is a lively and historic town situated at the southern end of the lake. It has an impressive cathedral featuring some excellent tapestries and paintings. There is also a funicular railway which takes you to the top of a hill for views of Lake Como. Menaggio is a popular resort offering an 18-hole golf course and some enjoyable walking excursions around the surrounding area. Varenna is a quieter but very attractive resort, a good place to enjoy a relaxing stay. There are two important villas that can be visited. Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo built originally in 1690, features fountains and sculptures. Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, built-in 1568, has some attractive English-style landscaped gardens. Today, it is an ultra-luxurious hotel attracting many celebrities when on a trip to Italy.
Lake Lugano lies between Maggiore and Como and the Italian section is one-third of the whole lake, the remainder being situated in Switzerland. Although the smallest of the four lakes mentioned here, it has much beauty, character and charm to enjoy on an Italy vacation. You will notice the many picturesque Venetian-style villages which hug the shoreline where you will find everything from medieval churches to art galleries, museums and parks and gardens. Lake Lugano is also a centre for watersports, hiking, trekking, sailing and golf. The principal town is Lugano where you will find many hotels, restaurants and bars.
Italy Vacation Information
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Italian Lake District
3 Trips Available
- 13 Days
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- 5 Days
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