The most famous lakes in Italy are in what is sometimes called the Italian Lake District, in the north of the country not far from the Alps. Beloved of the romantic poets as well as later writers, statesmen and royalty, the northern Italian lakes are beautiful and atmospheric, where mountains descend to meet the lakeshore, and stately grand hotels dominate pretty lakeside towns.
Lake Como is more tranquil and wooded than Lake Garda, although here too, you can head easily for more rugged terrain. The lake is a reminder of bygone holiday elegance, with a steamer cruising between resort towns and stately gardens open to the public.
Lake Maggiore is the second-largest lake in Italy, stretching between Lombardy and Piemonte and reaching into the Alps. The lake gets busy with tourists, particularly in the height of summer, but charming resorts such as Stresa, and the famous gardens of the Borromean Islands, Isola Bella and Isola Madre, make the destination a permanently worthwhile one.
Lake Garda, Italy’s biggest lake, is long and slim with a southern shore of low, rolling hills, and a contrasting northern end which is surrounded by towering mountains. Popular destinations: Desenzano del Garda and Sirmione.