From Pliny the Younger to Tennyson and Shelley, the beauty of the 'lake district' of northern Italy has drawn people for centuries. Lake Como and Lake Maggiore are the two main lakes, with the smaller Lake Lugano in between, lying mainly in Switzerland. Glacial in origin, the long, narrow Italian lakes are surrounded by dramatic scenery of hills and mountains, and their shores are dotted with picturesque villages and historic villas that are regularly used as film locations, most recently for Casino Royale. They make a truly wonderful destination for a holiday.
Many lakeside villas have long since been transformed into luxurious hotels. On the western shores of Lake Como, the most famous of the lakes, is the renowned Villa d'Este, which dates back to the sixteenth century. Slightly further up the lake is the Grand Hotel Tremezzo Palace; both properties are set in large private parks, with the Tremezzo bordering on the botanical gardens of the famous Villa Carlotta, and both with floating swimming pools over the lake - an ideal luxury holiday spot.
Moving on to Lake Maggiore, just outside the attractive town of Stresa is the beautifully restored Villa Aminta, which has a wonderful location overlooking the Borromeo Islands. All three of these properties combine the style of a bygone era with excellent restaurants and up-to-date facilities.
Luxury Italian lakes holidays offer peaceful relaxation in beautiful surroundings, as well as a wide range of activities, from water-skiing, sailing, windsurfing and tennis to long lakeside walks or bicycle rides. There are also several good golf courses in the vicinity, and the hotels all have private docks from where you can catch a boat to explore the lakes.
Two excursions not to be missed are to the charming town of Bellagio, set at the tip of a headland where the two arms of the Y-shaped Lake Como divide, and a tour of the Borromeo Islands of Lake Maggiore.