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Lombardy, the lakes region
Lombardy is the region of lakes. Those who choose the lakes choose nature, relaxation, poetic views and timeless villages. Lovers of nature, relaxation, water sports or food and wine, everyone can find their own dimension. Each lake has different characteristics and excellences but they all have one thing in common ... a magical atmosphere.
The Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore, often underestimated by tourists, holds true beauty. Visit the evocative Rocca d'Angera and the Hermitage of Santa Caterina dal Sasso, the lake's most precious treasure. End the day with a visit to Varese, known as the garden city. We suggest you don't miss the Basilica of San Vittore Martire, the courtyard of the Broletto, Palazzo Estense with its wonderful gardens, nicknamed the little Versailles, and Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza, another wonderful historical residence.
Visit Sacro Monte, a World Heritage Site, and then head down to Lake Varese, one of seven in the province. Here you can take a bike tour around the lake (about 30 km) or a walk along the lakefront on foot. The route we recommend is from Cazzago Brabbia to Biandronno. Along the way, don't miss the Isolino Virginia, the oldest pile-dwelling site in the Alps.
Romantic views and dream villas characterize this magical place. In Como don't miss the Tempio Voltiano, a mausoleum dedicated to Alessandro Volta, the Duomo and the Basilica di Sant'Abbondio. The real must-see, however, is the funicular up to Brunate, the balcony over the Alps, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Como and the Alps. If you come to Brunate for lunch, we suggest you try the polenta uncia, a typical dish of the area. Finally, dedicate a few hours to the Walk of the Villas, a pleasant walk along the lake, dotted with some of the most beautiful houses in the area such as Villa Saporiti and Villa Olmo.
The road from Como to Bellagio is spectacular, a continuous succession of narrow streets, picturesque views and elegant homes. Stop at Ossuccio from where ferries depart for Comacina Island, a lush island where, every summer, the famous Sagra di San Giovanni (Festival of St. John) is held, a celebration that includes a fireworks display and a regatta of the lucie, ancient boats of the lake. After the island visit Villa del Balbianello, a splendid residence and the set of many international films, including 007-Casino Royale, and Villa Carlotta, renowned for its art collection and gardens. Not far away, ferries leave for Bellagio, an enchanting village at the intersection of the two branches of the lake, and a destination for tourists from all over the world. Don't miss Villa Serbelloni and the gardens of Villa Melzi.
Hiking enthusiasts will love Monte Barro: nine points of interest, seven ring routes with different levels of difficulty. Others can go to Lecco, where the writer Alessandro Manzoni spent his youth and set his famous novel, The Betrothed. Don't miss Villa Manzoni, now a museum, Palazzo Belgiojoso, the Basilica of San Nicolò with its bell tower, from the top of which you can enjoy a breathtaking view, and visit Pescarenico, a fishing village with an enchanted atmosphere that seems to have been crystallised in Manzoni's time.
Varenna is the pearl of the Lecco shore. The centre is pretty, made up of narrow alleys, colourful houses and small shops. Take the lovers' walk, a footbridge over the water from which you can enjoy a wonderful view of the lake and mountains, and visit the Castle of Vezio and Villa Monastero , two real treasures. Not far from Varenna is the Abbey of Piona, one of the most fascinating abbeys in Italy. A word of advice? Try Le Gocce Imperiali, a powerful liqueur that the monks of the Abbey produce using herbs from the area. Before arriving at the Abbey, stop at the Orrido di Bellano, a spectacle of nature.
You can discover Lake Iseo on board a Riva, legendary wooden motorboats known and appreciated throughout the world, which were born here in 1842. And it is only by sailing that you can reach Monte Isola, one of the largest lake islands in Europe, which hosts an evocative festival every five years. There are many things to do on the island, but if you want to enjoy a unique view, you have to go up to the Santuario della Ceriola, located on the highest point of the island. A piece of advice? Don't forget to taste the typical local salami, the salami of Monte Isola.
The ancient Romans were the first to make Sirmione a holiday destination. Sirmione is full of attractions: visit the Castle and the beautiful Grotte di Catullo, take a boat ride, a walk along the lake and relax under the sun at Jamaica Beach. Would you like to dedicate some time to regenerate body and mind? The thermal baths of Sirmione, discovered about 130 years ago, are known throughout the world not only for the beauty of its environment but especially for the healing properties of its waters.
In beautiful Desenzano visit the Villa Romana, the remains of an ancient villa from the 1st century BC, and in nearby Lonato, the fascinating Ugo da Como Foundation. Before heading to Gardone, we recommend a stop on the beautiful Isola del Garda, which can only be reached by boat. Once in Gardone Riviera, a charming garden town, don't miss the Vittoriale degli Italiani complex, which includes buildings, streets, squares, an open-air theater and lush gardens. Spend some time in the André Heller botanical garden where you can admire botanical species from all over the world.
The Lake of Valvestino, among the less known, remembers the uncontaminated places of the Scandinavian regions. This lake, of artificial origin, hides a unique spectacle, which does not happen every day, but when it does it attracts many tourists... When the lake subsides, the remains of an ancient customs house emerge from the depths. All that remains of the structure is the roof, which is often mistaken for an ancient castle. In addition to the lake, we recommend you do not miss the characteristic barns of Cima Rest, the Astronomical Observatory and the Ethnographic Museum.
Packing ready? Your local expert is on hand to give you all the information you need about checking out and how to get to the airport.
Still have some time before you travel again? We can recommend an experience or a short excursion.