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Italy’s breathtaking Lake District stretches across Northern Italy, with major lakes like Lake Garda, Maggiore, Como, Varese, Orta, Lugano and Iseo. Each has its own particular character. The gorgeous landscapes of Italian lakes bring together the fascination of villages lost in time, ancient castles, monasteries, extravagant villas, charming town squares,  rich in history and character, and intriguing museums. It offers a wide variety of activities, from paragliding, sailing, windsurfing to mountains climbing, rappelling and olive oil tasting. You’ll see lemon trees and olive groves, palm-fringed lakeside walks with a stunning backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

 

It is the perfect escape for those looking for a holiday full of relaxation, beauty and culture, amid a stunning natural backdrop. A popular holiday destination for all seasons. 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites -  Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps.  Well preserved prehistoric stilt houses built around the Alpine lake. 

Lake District

By Thomas Jakobs - Pixabay 

Lake Garda 

Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, with its 370 km² surface, reaching from the steep alpine foothills to the northern edge of the Po Valley, surrounded  by  three regions of Italy; Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige and Veneto. Palms trees, olive trees, citrus  and vines dotted the steep rugged slopes, in addition to the picturesque villages, beaches, parks, islands in the middle of the lake, and nature reserves that is known for.  Some of these charming villages around the lake are Sirmione, Desenzano , Salo, Peschiera, Garda Island, Malcesine,  Limone sul Garda, Riva del Garda, and Torbole ... . Each villages with its own character and appeal. 

Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano del Garda, a busy and charming town with a marina basin and the piers where lake steamers and hydrofoils leave for towns all around the lake. With plenty of cafés and restaurants and convenient boat connections, Desenzano is a great base for exploring the lake. The harbour area, the beaches and the views from the castle are the main highlights in Desenzano.

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Desenzano del Garda

By silviarita-Pixabay 

Garda Island (Isola del Garda)

The Garda Island, also known as Isola Borghese, is the largest island in Lake Garda, and is located about 200 m from the coast, in the territory of San Felice. It can be reached by boat . Guided tour are available in the charming park and the Villa Ferrari, an admirable example of a Venetian – Gothic style villa on the lake .

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By pixabay -CC0

Limone sul Garda

Limone sul Garda is one of the oldest and best preserved towns on Lake Garda. Perching on the hillside above Lake Garda, it’s a hidden gem, and the perfect place to relax and unwind on a laid-back vacation.

 

Limone is the Italian word for 'lemon' and this area was once renowned for growing lemons and other citrus fruits. The heart of the old town is the little harbour, the Porto Vecchio ('Old Port'), narrow lanes lined with tourist shops.  Do not miss the church of San Pietro in Oliveto, built in the 9th century, one of the oldest Romanesque with its original frescoes and the Azzone Visconti Bridge with its arches, built during the Renaissance. The bridge was used to connect Lecco to the Duchy of Milan and still today is the access to the city for those coming from Milan or Garda. There are many restaurants and cafes, with picturesque waterfront terraces, where you can take a break and appreciate the most beautiful glimpses of the lake.

 

Limone Sul Garda is a smaller but beautiful upcoming tourist destination that is worth a visit. You will be surprised by some of the unique things to explore at this hidden gem.

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Limone sul Garda

By Tommy_Rau - Pixabay 
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By Hans Braxmeier - Pixabay 

Malcesine

Malcesine, a little medieval town on north-east shore of Lake Garda, in the Veneto region. Nestled between Lake and Mount Baldo, is one of the prettiest and most popular towns on the lake. At its top, a 13th-century castle - another Castle of  Scaligero - stands on a crag, its ramparts dropping directly to the lake below. The views are, of course, superb!

The other principal sight in Malcesine is Monte Baldo, reaching an altitude of more than 1700 metres. There’s a  revolving cable car , that slowly turns as it rises up Monte Baldo, allowing everyone on board to enjoy the views. overlooking Lake Garda. From the harbour in Malcesine you can take a boat trips across Lake Garda   to reach Limone Sul Garda to Riva del Garda , a resort  at Lake Garda's northern end.

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Malcesine

By Ronile - Pixabay 
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Malcesine

By kordula vahle -Pixabay 

Peschiera del Garda

Peschiera del Garda, a lakeside village, unique of its kind, situated on the south end of Lake Garda at the mouth of the River Mincio. Peschiera del Garda is an absolutely charming town. From canals, bridges, beautiful churches, historic buildings , enormous fortress walls to its fashionable modern-day shops, there's no shortage of things to see and do.

 

It is surrounded by the Venetian fortification wall, built between the 16th and 17th centuries,  owned by Venice that overlooked the Adriatic Sea. The defense structures including fortified systems, city- fortresses, isolated forts. Since July 2016 Unesco has protected these ramparts by including them in the Venetian Works of Defence Heritage Sites , which consists of 6 components of defence works spanning more than 1,000 km between the Italy Croatia and Montenegro. It Italy, the components can be found in Lombardy , Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

 

From the port, it is also possible to embark to visit other beautiful places to visit near Peschiera, such as Riva, Desenzano, Sirmione, Salò and the small and romantic village of Lazise.

 

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Fortress 

By Zairon -  wikimedia.org, CC BY-SA 4.0

By  Massimo Telò - . wikimedia.org, CC BY-SA 3.0

Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda, located on the Northern end of Lake Garda, in the region of Trentino, is one of the main tourists draws. Riva del Garda sits between the mountains and the water, a pleasant combination of medieval old streets and sunny waterside parks and promenades. Poised above the old center is is a Venetian watch-tower, and the Town Hall rebuilt by the Venetians.  Another important monument is the Rocca del Riva, another castle of the Scaligeri family, built between the 12th and 15th centuries. Inside is the excellent Museo Civico, with prehistoric and later artifacts, well displayed and interpreted. 

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Riva del Garda

 By travelspot -Pixabay 

Sirmione

Sirmione, a jewel on Lake Garda, its romantic center enclosed in the peninsula, is renowned for its Roman remains and thermal waters. It had been a Veronese summer resort for the elite since the 1st century BC. The town had grown to become one the most important Roman cities in northeast Italy, Garda had been praised by several artists and poets of the time, including Catullus.

Scaliger Castle is located in the town of Sirmione. The water-surrounded fortress was constructed in the 12th century by the Scaligeri family, lords from Verona who controlled much of the region at that time, as part of their defensive network . The Scaliger Castle is considered one of the finest examples of a medieval fortifications, including a very rare fortified port. There are 150 steps which lead up to the ramparts and the tower is open to public for viewing. From the top of the tower, you can enjoy the beautiful panoramic views of the Lake Garda.

From the Castle, you can take a tranquil cruise to see the ancient Roman ruins Grotto of Catullus. In fact, Grotto of Catullus, neither belonged to the poet nor is it actually a grotto – it is just the remains of what probably used to be a Roman villa. Still, it’s certainly worth a visit if you want to combine some history with the local nature and indelible charm of the place.

Torbole

Torbole, a historic village facing Lake Garda, with particular beauty. A walk through the beautiful ancient village centre with the narrow alleys should really not be missed!  Due to the constant wind and the ban of motor boats, Torbole has become a premier windsurfing and sailing spot. A true paradise for watersports lovers! Lessons and rentals for both sports are available here.

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By Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke - Pixabay 
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 By Gianni Crestani da Pixabay 

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second lake, bordering both Lombardy and Piedmont regions, boasting spectacular views and a temperate climate, imposing mountains and green hills, a vast historical and artistic heritage of superb villas, castles, monasteries and archaeological sites.  The beautiful banks of Lake Maggiore, sprinkled with beautiful and awe-inspiring cities. Some of the popular cities are Stresa, Borromean Islands, Baveno, Pallanza, Intra, Verbania and the monastery of Santa Caterina clinging to the rock. Wherever you are on Lake Maggiore,  glamorous natural beauty greets your eyes wherever you gaze. 

Stresa and the Borromeo Islands

Stresa and the Borromeo Islands are the jewel of Lake Maggiore.

This peaceful small town is located in North Piedmont in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, not far from Milan. Facing the Borromeo gulf and Borromeo Island around Lake Maggiore, Stresa stands with an engaging and fascinating view. 

Stresa offers regular ferries to the beautiful and quirky Borromeo Islands. Another way to enjoy the fresh mountain air and scenic views is to take the cable car from the town of Stresa to the top of Mount Mottarone. These superb views stretch all the way to the distant Alps, and an added highlight of the cable car trip is the opportunity to hop off for a while to tour the alpine gardens at Giardino Alpinia.

Borromeo Islands are made up of the monumental Isola Bella, dominated by exquisite Borromeo villa, along with an extravagant Italian-style garden, the picturesque Isola dei Pescatori,  with characteristic markets and a labyrinth of narrow, cobbled stone streets, and Isola Madre, noted for its beautiful Palazzo and  botanical garden, rich in rare plants and enormous landscaping.

Baveno

The enchanting little lakeside town of Baveno, next to Stresa, is of Roman origin, and is famous for its mineral water springs and its quarries of pink granite, and as a holiday resort since the 19th century. The fine lakefront promenade offers a superb view of the Borromean Islands, which can be reached by boats leaving from Baveno harbour. The architectural attractions of the town include the Parish Church of Santi Gervasio and Protasio and the Baptistery, which stand in a broad square accessed from Via Monte Grappa.

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By Pierre André -wikimedia.org, CC BY-SA 4.0
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By Fabio Alessandro Locati - wikimedia.org, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, Lake Maggiore

Picturesquely located on a sheer cliff above the water, overlooking the Borromeo Gulf, the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is certainly one of the most charming sights of Lago Maggiore. The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, a Roman Catholic Monastery,   is one of the most intriguing historical sites on Lake Maggiore. Founded almost 1,000 years ago by Alberto Besozzi of Arolo (Leggiuno), who was shipwrecked in the area and vowed his devotion to St Caterina if he should be saved. In the year 1195, he built this isolated church, clinging  to a rock face,  overhanging the lake!