Next stop: Italy. If you are a lover of nature and photography, point out the following tourist sites within the peninsula of the boot. We present four of the most famous lakes in all of Italy and the best villages and hiding places in the area. Take the camera or the selfie stick and get ready for the villages on the banks of the lakes, the gardens, the best landscapes between mountains and the sunsets reflected in the clear water of the lakes. You may even encounter a movie star or a famous heart … Did you know that this is one of the favorite areas for celebrities in Europe to disconnect?
To the north of Italy , and entering Switzerland, is Lake Maggiore. One of the largest and most attractive in the entire Italian peninsula. In fact, it has been attracting luxury for centuries and illustrious visitors who do not want to miss this natural paradise.
The waters of this lake, on the southern slopes of the Alps, bathe the Borromean Islands. These are full of mansions and palaces worthy of fairy tales and princesses full of fantastic stories, and not so fantastic. And this is not a joke. Historical personalities such as Commander Napoleon or Princess Diana of Wales have stayed on these islands. Can you imagine walking along the same paths that Lady Di did?
But why are there so many villas in this area? The answer is more logical than we thought. The natural beauty of Lake Maggiore and the arrival of the railway facilitated the construction of great villas during the 19th century. The European high bourgeoisie did not want to miss the opportunity to spend a few days in this magical area of Italy.
If you can, organize your visit to go to any of these houses. Above all, visit the ones on the lake and those on the islands. Our particular recommendation: the Palazzo Borromeo , which houses works by Tizziano and Rubens; and the Palazo Madre. The visit to the Isola Superiore, or fishermen’s island, is also a must for your trip through beautiful Italy. The town has arrived to this day while retaining a large part of its original charm. Take advantage of your visit to try their delicious grilled fish, visit its historic center and buy some souvenirs in the souvenir shops.
You should also visit Stresa , one of the main towns on the shores of this lake. As you can see, the Grand Hotel des Borromées captures all the attention, and more to be surrounded by a forest so lush and green. This building is, without a doubt, a whole architectural work in front of which it deserves to stand a good time to contemplate it. Did you know that Hemingway, after being wounded in World War I, wrote in this hotel the novel ‘Goodbye to arms’? As you can see, Lake Maggiore is surrounded by a halo of magic and history. What are you waiting for to get carried away by him?
With the camera in hand, get on the Funivia Stressa-Mottarone funicular , which will take you to the top of the mountain. The perspective from here is even more impressive and wide. If it is a day that is not cloudy and the weather is favorable, you can get to see Lake D’orta and Mount Rosa, on the border with Switzerland. Between these two points the Alpinia Botanical Garden awaits you. A must for botany fans for its wide variety of alpine plants. A collection that is not seen anywhere!
But the surprises do not finish here, To minimize pollution, and to conserve this area, we have the Maggiore express. This is a panoramic train that is presented as a great alternative to respect the environment, and incidentally, not having to take the car during the holidays. The Maggiore Express is a panoramic train that offers a tour in two stages: from Arona or Stressa to Domodossola. There an even better surprise awaits you. You have to change and get on the historic Centovalli train to the Swiss city of Locarno. Of course, we hope you are not afraid of boats … the return to Stressa is done by ferry!
Five kilometers from the border with Switzerland, and almost hidden under a mountain in the Cannobina Valley, we find the medieval town of Cannobio . With just a walk through the town, you can see how almost, you have traveled in time and have reached a typical medieval town. The little houses of the Piazza di Vittorio Emanuele III, where a Sunday market is held, attracts the attention of even the neighboring country. Did you know that dozens of Swiss travel every weekend to buy at the market?
In the historic center of Cannobio we find a 15th-century monastery, which was later the residence of the Pironi family and today is a hotel with beautiful rooms with vaulted ceilings decorated with very original frescoes. An experience for art lovers.
But here our visit does not end. In fact, the options multiply. You can visit the ruins of the Castelli dell Malpaga on the lake taking a sailboat or, if you like nature more, you can explore the Cannobia Valley and enter them to the town of Malesco. Choose the option you choose, enjoy the sea breeze and the freshness that the lake gives to the environment.
Lake D Orta
We continue with Lake D’Orta is just one step away from the Maggiore. Separated by Mount Mottarone, and surrounded by dense forests, the lake environment is ideal for a secret getaway.
If you have rented a car, you can go around the lake so quietly: it is 13.4 kilometers long and 2.5 kilometers wide. Take the opportunity to explore every corner of the d’Orta camera in hand … and, if your getaway allows it, approach the medieval town of Orta San Giulio . The frescoes of the Basilica of San Giulio, dating from the twelfth century, will leave you with your mouth open. One last tip: visit the town during the week as it is usually almost empty.
Ah! And keep your eyes wide open. Who knows who you can find in this secret hiding place .
If we look at a map, towards the east of Lake Maggiore, we find Lake Como. Famous for its particular inverted Y shape and for the enclave in which it is located, it is one of the most visited by celebrities and, how do not! For the press of the heart. Did you know that George Clooney bought Villa Oleandra on this lake , for more than 9 million dollars? But the American actor is not the only one to have residence in the region. Silvio Berlusconi, Richard Branson, Donatella Versace and Madonna are other stars that are usually in the region.
If you have the chance, visit the fork that forms. The panoramas are incredible. Once you’re there, take a look around you. The banks of the lake are dotted with fabulous gardens that, in spring, are a visual sight.
On your visit to Lake Como you can not miss Bellagio . Let’s start with Villa Serbelloni. Although it is owned by the Rockefeller Foundation, it allows guided tours of its wonderful gardens. After this, we recommend a walk through its cypress fields and a visit to the maze of stone staircases. Be careful and don’t get lost! Better come accompanied and enjoy this experience. We continue with a walk through the grounds of the Villa Melzi D’Eril, which extends to the very edge of the lake. The Villa, which was built for the advisor of Napoleon, is one of the most elegant mansions in the area. Surely, with a little imagination, you see yourself living there.
Tour the impressive area of Lago di Como and Milan , capital of fashion, with this fantastic fly and drive trip.
Close to Venice, Milan and Bergamo is the great Lake Garda. To be exact, it is the largest in northern Italy and has been the birthplace of very diverse artists and writers, such as Dante, Byron, Goethe or Stendhal. Inspiration that is understood by just stepping on the area and seeing the forests, houses and mansions on the banks of the lake. The green tints of the reflection of the forests in the lake thrill, right?
In addition, a particular microclimate is enjoyed in the Garda area . Thanks to this, more southern Italian crops, such as vines, laurels, palm trees or lemon trees, bloom. Take advantage of your trip to northern Italy to try the typical, and not so typical, cuisine of the country.
Salo, Italian town
One of the most special and emblematic villas in the area is Sirmione . Located on a peninsula, the castle of Rocca Scaligera of the thirteenth century is striking. In addition, its beaches, the Cátulo Grottoes and the archaeological site found in Sirmione, make the visit to the area mandatory. If you have rented a vehicle, we recommend a route of about 150 kilometers following a road that borders the lake. This route will continually give you stunning views. But don’t lose your attention on the road. Stop in the areas enabled for it and take advantage of taking a couple of photographs!
11 kilometers from Sirmione is Desenzano, the capital of the lake. In its historic center, look out over the church of Santa Maria Maddalena. The church, which is nothing more and nothing less than five centuries old, has the painting The Last Supper of Tiépolo. A gift of history for the eyes and for art lovers.
If we have mentioned Napoleon and one of his advisors before, now comes Mussolini’s turn. Another point of the visit to the lakes of northern Italy is the town of Saló, linked to the life of the Italian dictator. There, the 19th century aristocracy built imposing art deco villas. Many today are museums open to the public. What do you think of this walk through Italian history?