Our luxury tailor-made hotel holidays to the Italian Lakes span the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Piemonte and the Veneto.
We offer hotels located by the undisputedly beautiful Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and Lake Garda and also the smaller, quieter lakes of Orta and Iseo, both well-worth exploring in their own right. Each lake has its own character and atmosphere, distinctive terrain, architecture and style. Placed as the lakes are to the south of the Alps and to the north of the Po Valley, they naturally possess a charming mixture of the vibrant coolness associated with the Alps but enlivened by the warmth of the South.
The landscape around the Italian Lakes is one of deep blue waters surrounded by greenish-blue tinged mountains, often snow-capped. On the shores of the lakes and the lower slopes of the hills you find a profusion of lemons and olives, chestnuts and palms, magnolias and camellias. Pretty villages with rustic stone and wood houses hug the sheltered bays and fishing boats still moor next to sailing boats. Wrought-iron balconies and colourful shutters adorn gaily-painted houses with terracotta roofs.
Dining is usually al fresco in the summer months and a magical atmosphere is created with the lapping of the waters and the twinkling of the lights around the lake and in the hills above. The close proximity to Milan and Verona as well as other less well-known but artistically interesting cities means that you can visit the Italian Lakes quite easily for just a weekend or short break as well as a longer holiday. The Italian Lakes can all be visited as part of a rail holiday, and the many beautiful gardens located in the vicinity of Lakes Como and Maggiore are well worth a visit as part of a garden tour holiday. You can also download here a pdf of the Garden Tours of Italy leaflet.
Our favourite four and five star hotels for luxury holidays in the Italian Lakes include Lefay Resort & Spa on Lake Garda, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and Villa d'Este on Lake Como, and the Hotel Cannero Lakeside Resort on Lake Maggiore.
Cultural Highlights around the Italian LakesMuch of the artistic and architectural cultural wealth in the region is concentrated in the great cities such as Milan and Verona but also in the less well-known but culturally-rich centres of Bergamo, Brescia, Pavia, Mantova and Vicenza (not directly on the Lakes but within reach for a day`s excursion). Highlights include the frescoes by Masolino at Castiglione Olona, the Rocca (castle) at Angera, the Flemish tapestries on the Isola Bella Lake Maggiore, the marble cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore at Como and the works of art in the Galleria dell`Accademia Tadini at Lovere on Lake Iseo. Milan has La Scala, the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, the Brera Gallery (containing Raphael`s `Marriage of the Virgin` and the Montefeltro altarpiece by Piero della Francesca) and its Gothic cathedral. Verona has its annual opera festival from June until the end of August, the Romanesque church of San Zeno, the Renaissance Loggia del Consiglio and the Roman Arena.
Festivals in the Italian LakesThe Verona Opera Festival takes place in the Roman Arena every year with performances running from June until the end of August. Verona also celebrates Carnival every year culminating on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday. Como holds a flea market, the Fiera di Pasqua, over the Easter weekend. Music festivals take place in Bergamo throughout the year. The Mille Miglia veteran car race starts and ends in Brescia (via Ferrara to Rome in May each year).
Gastronomy in the Italian LakesThe cuisine of northern Italy tends to contain more meat and butter than further south and rice and polenta compete with pasta. Saffron is used extensively as in Risotto alla Milanese. Bresaola is cured raw beef served as an antipasta (now often with rocket and parmesan). Manzo al Barolo (beef in Barolo wine), Costolette alla Milanese (veal cutlets in breadcrumbs) and Ossobucco (veal in wine and tomatoes) are all popular dishes. Panettone cake and Zabaglione are two regional desserts. This region produces some of Italy's most famous cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Bel Paese, Fontina and Taleggio as well as some of Italy's most exportable wines such as Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella. Less well known but interesting wines are produced in the Valtellina in the north of Lombardy and in Franciacorta near Lake Iseo.
Historic villas are to be found on every lake from the Grotte di Catullo Roman villa at Sirmione on Lake Garda to Villa Melzi and Villa Olmo on Lake Como and the Palazzo Estense in Varese. Most of these villas also have extraordinarily beautiful gardens (which can be visited as part of an Expressions Garden Tour holiday) such as the Villa Carlotta on Lake Como, the Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore and Villa Taranto at Punta della Castagnola on Lake Maggiore. Monte Mottarone above Stresa on Lake Maggiore and Monte Baldo above Lake Garda can both be reached by cable car and afford spectacular views. At Gargnano on Lake Garda you can see the stone pavilions where lemons were traditionally cultivated. Within the region there are national parks such as the Stelvio National Park north of Orta and the Parco Nazionale della Val Grande above Verbania on Lake Maggiore.
By air: Fly to Milan, Verona or Brescia Daily flights to Milan with British Airways from Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh and daily flights with Alitalia from Heathrow. Daily flights to Verona with British Airways from Gatwick. Most of the hotels in the Lakes are no more than 90 minutes' drive from the airport. Hire-car: We include a hire-car with all our holidays to the Italian Lakes. However, you do not need to have a car in this area, particularly if you are going to stay at just one hotel on say Lake Como or Maggiore. We can arrange a taxi transfer for you instead of the hire-car. If you are going to combine a stay on the Lakes with say a stay in Verona or Venice, you can collect the car at the airport when you arrive, use it for your stay in the Lakes and then drop the car off when you arrive in the city. Self-drive: With your own car you can reach the Lakes with just one overnight stop en route, perhaps in Burgundy or Alsace.In addition to holidays by air and by car, you may also be interested in holidays by rail (including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and an overnight sleeper service from Paris to Italy).
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio is an elegant five star hotel on the banks of Lake Como.
Located on the western shore of Lake Como facing the pretty resort of Bellagio, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo Pa
The five star Villa d'Este in Cernobbio, Lake Como exudes charm and relaxed sophistication.
The Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli has an exclusive setting on the western shores of Lake Garda.
Hotel Bellevue is a 19th century lakeside hotel in the town of Malcesine on the eastern shores of Lake Gard
The Hotel Villa del Sogno is another hotel which we found captivating from the moment we arrived and which
Palace Hotel Villa Cortine is a top-quality hotel combining a relaxing atmosphere and excellent service. Th
The five-star Hotel L’Albereta is an enchanting discovery within gently rolling landscape in Franciacorta.
The Villa Aminta stands in its own gardens in the resort of Stresa facing Lake Maggiore.
Hotel Cannero Lakeside Resort is a charming family-run hotel right by Lake Maggiore.
The Grand Hotel Majestic enjoys an enviable position on a promontory that juts out into Lake Maggiore.
The Hotel San Rocco enjoys a splendid location in the glorious village of Orta San Giulio, on the banks of
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Find out more about Italy
CapitalRome AirportThere is a very good scattering of international airports in Italy, with the main ones being Venice, Pisa, Milan, Rome, Bologna, Naples, Genoa, Turin and Bari; on Sicily, Catania is served by several airlines from the UK and on Sardinia you fly to Cagliari or Olbia.CurrencyEuro (£1 = Euro 1.30) SizeItaly is roughly 650 miles long, but only about 100 miles wide Population60 million Average temperatureItaly's temperature varies dramatically, from about 4 degrees in Turin in winter to 33 degrees in Sicily in summer, with snow year-round on the summits of the Pyrenees and Alps National holidays in Italy Some tourist attractions as well as banks etc may close on the following days: 1 January 6 January (Epiphany) Easter Monday 25 April (Liberation Day) 1 May (Labour Day) 15 August (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) 1 November (All Saints) 8 December (Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Christmas Day Boxing Day There are a number of local feast days that can affect conditions locally. In addition to the above days, museums are often closed on Mondays in Italy.
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