Top 10 Lakes in Italy

Top 10 Lakes in Italy
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The 10 Best Lakes That Italy Has to Offer

by Mary Lapidus

Everyone has heard of Italy. That is just a known fact of life. Everyone has heard of the mouth-watering pastas, beautiful architecture, and can at least name the famous Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci. However, there is something that has always remained true throughout the span of time: Some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring things in the world were not crafted by the hands of man, but by Mother Nature herself. A perfect example of this can be found in the various lakes of Italy where there’s something for everyone. Whether you are a historian at heart, an adventurer, an artist seeking inspiration, or someone just wanting to get away from today’s fast-paced society, one visit to an Italian lake will have you in a state of pure bliss. So, now that you know just how spectacular the Italian lakes are… how do you know which ones are the best? Lucky for you, Italia.org has got you covered. Read on to find out all about the 10 best lakes in Italy!lake como 2

Lake Como- By far, Lake Como is most popular lake in Italy with tourists and natives alike constantly flocking over, be it for a vacation or a short visit. Located in the northern region of Lombardy, it is the 3rd largest lake in Italy and (believe it or not) it has been mentioned in writings from Roman times. That’s right, you didn’t misread that last part. This lake has a long reputation for being simply “fantastico.” Upon vacationing there, you can enjoy a variety of water sports, and a ferry service provides easy transport, with just 28 Euros providing an adult with an all day pass for the service. This lake is known for its villas, luxury, and of course, its awe-inspiring natural beauty. Oh, and there’s also the fact that George Clooney owns one of said villas. Despite this lake being known for its extreme luxury, it’s quite possible to avoid emptying your wallet there. There are many hotels in towns near the lake, or if you’d prefer, a selection of campsites surround the lake as well. Of these hotels, they can range from pricey five star hotels like the famous Hotel Villa Serbelloni (which is thought of as a landmark by some, due to how long it has been around) to good old-fashioned bed and breakfasts. In the nearby town of Lierna, for instance, you can stay at Le Ortensie Due starting at just 40 Euros a night for a single stay during the low season!

Lake Maggiore- Like Lake Como, this is also a very popular destination for travelers with just as much charm and beauty. Its 82 square mile area stretches from Piedmont to Lombardy, and all the way into Switzerland. Within the lake, there are two “Borromean” islands called Isola Bella and Isola Madre. They received their collective title from the surname of the Borromeo family which had worked towards building a private residence on the islands. Today, you can see the beautiful palaces and gardens present on these jewels of the lake. Aside from the spectacular sightseeing that you can enjoy at the islands, you can also engage in a hike in one of the surrounding national parks and reserves such as the Lagoni or Val Grande National Parks. If hiking doesn’t suit your taste, then you can head over to the Formazza Valley Skii Centre for an afternoon of fun and relaxation not far from the lake. When it comes to finding a good place to stay, the Grand Hotel Varese is reputed as being absolutely wonderful, and it has a 4-star rating to back that claim. While it might not be the cheapest option (from 79 Euros a night for a single room), it is certainly a great place to stay if you’re looking for nothing short of luxury.  trentino alto adige mountain and lake

Lake Garda- This is the largest lake in the entire country, and understandably, a great tourist destination. It spans between the three regions of Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige. Apart from its obvious size, il Lago di Garda (as it is called in Italian), is also known for delicious dining options, great stay, relaxing spas, and of course shopping. The lake has relatively mild weather, making it a great contender in becoming one of your destinations on your next trip to Italy, and for all of you history buffs out there, you can take a trip to the ancient town of Sirmione on Garda’s southern shore. Now, that’s all well and good, but I think the real winner here is the fact that this lake is home to the number one amusement park in Italy: Gardaland. It’s got everything you could ever want in an amusement park: Food, tons of rides, a hotel, and it even has an aquarium to put the icing on the cake. A nice perk is that a standard day pass only costs €37.50. That’s about half the price of an adult ticket at Disneyland! All in all, it can suffice to say that there’s something for everyone at il Lago di Garda.

Lake Bolsena- Its waters lay in the crater left behind by an extinct volcano and it’s renowned for being the largest volcanic lake in all of Europe, and the fifth largest lake in the country. It features an assortment of beautiful castles, churches and tombs from way back in the day as well as beautifully eye-catching beaches. Fishing is available for tourists throughout the lake as long as a special “tourist ticket” is purchased for 35 Euros at the “Ufficio Forestale” which will act as a license. Some of the fish extant within the lake include eel (which is of such high quality that it has even earned a place in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy), Catfish, Crucian Carp, Black Bass, and (my personal favorite just because of its name) Chub. There is also an assortment of water sports available at the lake and even scuba diving (just make sure that you bring your own gear). Lastly, if you’re not already dying to pack your toothbrush and jammies and head over to the lake, then go take a hike! Literally, of course! You can take a stroll along the shore or through the surrounding towns and villages which are simply awash with all-natural Italian charm and beauty.

Lake Idro- Between lakes Garda and Iseo is where you’ll find the lovely Lake Idro. Its deep blue-green waters stretch for just under 7 miles in length and aside from the activities available at the lake (such as kiteboarding, sailing, fishing, and skiing in the mountains), there is much to see all around it.  The majority of the lake is within the Province of Brescia. In Brescia, the small town of Anfo provides a break from the usually expected herds of tourists that visit Italy each year. Anfo is right along Lake Idro and not only provides a great opportunity for sightseeing, but also has great options for places to stay while in Italy. One such place is The Garden Grill hotel, with great reviews and only a cost of €38 per person each night (with a breakfast included and discounts available for children), this is certainly a deal if I’ve ever seen one. Also in Anfo, you can visit the Church of Saint Antonia, which is filled with frescoes from the 1400s.

Lake Iseo- If you’re planning a trip to Lombardy, a stop here is a must, especially if you want to get away from the rushes of tourism that are so typical of vacations. It’s not very well known, and in that way, it can provide a great getaway from the fast-paced everyday life that we, in modern society, have gotten oh so accustomed to. As is typical of Italy’s fine lakes, you can partake in sailing, climbing, cycling, and wakeboarding among other activities. This lake is actually home to an island called Monte Isola. Also known as Montisola, it is the largest lake island in all of Europe and one of the first things that you might notice about it is the fact that there are literally almost no cars. How’s that for a change of setting from the usual traffic jams and rush hours? On Montisola, you can visit the Church of Saint Michael or admire frescoes straight from the 1500s at the Madonna Della Ceriola Sanctuary. If you don’t mind a pricey but exceptional stay, Borgolago Suites (in the town of Iseo right next to the lake) is a superb option. Don’t believe me? Why don’t you take a look at the hundreds of reviews of this outstanding establishment and pack your bags! Island with renaissance buildings in the middle of an italian lake (Orta) near Milan

Lake Lugano- Also in Lombardy, you can find the sparkling waters of Lake Lugano awaiting your visit. You can visit the city of Lugano or the smaller and much more quaint village of San Mamete just 15 minutes away. A ferry service provides transport between the two and if you aren’t one to fancy a more quiet holiday, then venture into the city of Lugano to enjoy a lively and vivacious nightlife scene full of clubs, discos, and even two casinos in its vicinity! Of these, one is the Casino Luganò nuzzled right in the city’s center. Featuring a thoroughly modern design inside and out, this is the place to go to if you’re feeling particularly lucky while out and about. Here you can try your hand at Black Jack, slots, Poker, American Roulette, or Punto Bianco. In addition to the actual gambling, you can celebrate your winnings (or seek reconcile for your losses) with a glass of whatever alcohol floats your gondola at their combination lounge and bar entitled La Perla.

Lake Trasimeno- This lake is extant within the lovely Italian region of Umbria. There are an assortment of nearby wineries, and as always, a selection of hotels that range from family-owned bed and breakfasts to hotels that are three stars and up. If you’d prefer camping over a typical stay in a hotel, then two highly-recommended campsites to definitely consider are the Badiacca Camping Village and the Villaggio Italgest. As for activities, take a trip down to the Palazzo della Corgna nearby the lake or see a concert if you’re planning to visit during between July and September, you can enjoy a concert at the 18th century theater “Teatro Cesare Caporali.” If you’re much more into the scientific field, then you might be quite pleased to know that the entirety of Isola Polvese (the island within Lake Trasimeno) is an educational scientific park and features the Garden of Aquatic plants. This definitely puts meaning into “You learn something new every day!”

Lake Orta- In the region of Piedmont is where you’ll find one of Italy’s smallest lakes, il Lago d’Orta. It’s one of the smallest and least known of the Italian lakes, so in this respect the lake proves to be of sharp contrast to the “Big Three” lakes of Italy (Como, Maggiore, and Garda) that were previously discussed. However, for what it lacks in size, it makes up for with its charm and tranquility. In fact, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche described his visit to his lake as life-changing. Being that philosophers are sometimes referred to as “great thinkers,” if you won’t trust me when I say that this lake is a prime destination, trust this guy. As for finding a place to stay, as usual, you can choose from small and cozy family-run bed and breakfasts which tend to be much kinder to the typical adventurer’s wallet, or a much more lavish four-star hotel such as the Turkish-inspired Villa Crespi. While you’re there, you can visit the Isola San Giulio which features the Basiclia of San Giulio and its beautifully ornate interior. On the more peculiar side of things, the Lake Orta area is home to the only museum in Italy that is solely devoted to educating its visitors about umbrellas, parasols, and the people who made them. Now that is a place that you can brag about going to on Facebook.

Lake Bracciano- Last, but certainly not least, is Lake Bracciano which is nestled in the Lazio region of Italy. It’s the second largest lake in the region, and features the nearby city Bracciano, home of Bracciano Castle. If there’s one thing that you can accomplish at this lake, it’s perfecting the art of relaxation. Though it’s a bit on the pricey side (with their cheapest “Relax Package” coming with a price tag of €65), this hotel and spa has much to offer. From massages and facials to a fitness center, it’s well-equipped with everything you could need in a soothing vacation. If it’s a deal you’re after, B&B Raggio Di Sole has a price tag that is significantly lower. A single bed costs 40 Euros during the cold season, and there are a few discounts offered as well. One of which will give you 10% off on your second day, and children below the age of eight and a half can get a free bed!

All in all, the Italian lakes are certainly something to marvel at, and since there’s something for everyone present in the many lakes of Italy, it’s hard to go wrong. With beauty everywhere you turn, and relaxation and fun never fair away, make your vacation scream “Magnifico!” and head on over to the best ten lakes in Italy. You won’t regret it!         www.italia.org

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