An essential destination for romantic visitors in the 19th century, the great Italian lakes are still popular for their beauty and enchanting atmosphere. Nestled in the sumptuous environment of the mountains that surround them, the romantic lakes boast magnificent landscapes, charming resorts and lush gardens. The Italian lakes are enchanting places to enjoy 'la dolce vita'. Each has its own personality and character.
Lake Maggiore is the most majestic in the country, with early 20th century villas dotted along on its shores. The Borromean islands are small, nostalgic paradises with their sumptuous palaces and gardens full of exotic flowers.
Lake Como, Europe's deepest lake, nestled in the foothills of the Alps and dominated by high peaks, is famous for its heavenly climate. Luxurious aristocratic mansions lie on its shores alongside small fishing villages surrounded by towering mountains. In the past, this charming location was a popular holiday destination for artists and intellectuals, including Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas and many more. Today, it is a favourite spot for the rich and famous from Milan.
Lake Garda is Italy's largest and arguably most spectacular lake. Its Mediterranean vibe and intense blue waters are breathtaking. Its splendid landscapes are diverse, bordered by steep cliffs in the north and hilly shores in the south. Just a few miles from Brescia, nestled in the mountains and surrounded by forests, Lake Iseo is dominated by the majestic silhouette of Monte Isola, a small island with splendid views of the lake.
The Great Lakes Region, by Allessandro Manzoni
The best writer of Italian Romantic literature is from Milan, not far from the Great Lakes.
The Betrothed, his great popular novel, studied by generations of Italian schoolchildren, is considered the first modern Italian novel. It takes place in Lombardy in the 17th century. Lucia and Renzo, the two unfortunate heroes of this great saga - a political allegory of the situation in Italy, then under Spanish rule - are two young peasants from Lake Como. They are separated by a series of tragic events in a region decimated by war and plague. Don Rodrigo, a Spanish lord who loves Lucia, prevents the young couple from marrying. In the streets of the village of Lecco, on the shores of Lake Como, you can visit the places described in The Betrothed, which still remain unchanged today. In the Olate district, visit the church where Lucia and Renzo should have celebrated their wedding.
In Milan, personal belongings and manuscripts are exhibited in Casa-Museo Manzoni in Via Morone, where the writer lived from 1814 until his death in 1873.
8 Reasons to love the great Italian lakes
- Soak up the melancholy atmosphere when mist slowly creeps over the shores, gardens and villages at dusk
- Drink a shakerato iced coffee in the shade of a pergola on Isola dei Pescatori
- Shop at Luino Market, which has been on Plaza Garibaldi since the 16th century
- Admire the choreography of 'vaporettos' (local waterbuses) gliding over deep waters
- Wake up feeling serene and calm in front of the majestic landscapes of Lake Maggiore
- Lunch in a fish restaurant on the shores of Lake Garda
- Step back in time to the Belle Epoque while strolling through the palace gardens full of gorgeous bougainvillea flowers
- Enjoy a drink at the Villa d'Este on the shores of Lake Como as the sun sets.
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