Italian land and nature: Lombardy, the Lakes Region
- WTI Magazine #121 Nov 17, 2019
Lombardy, with its grand lakes and numerous small basins, offers a unique mix of charms to lovers of lake tourism. Staying on Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore or Iseo (just to name the largest and most famous), means immersing oneself in all the flourish of a lush nature that also has the power to renew the mind and body. The gorgeous landscapes of Lombardy’s lakes bring together the fascination of villages lost in time, near-ancient castles and monasteries, superb villas, places rich in history and character, and intriguing museums.
Athletics enthusiasts also have at their disposition a choice of “open-air gyms” where they can practice sport in water, air or on land: swimming, canoe, windsurfing, rock-climbing, mountain-biking, trekking, horesback riding, hang-gliding, rafting and golf are just some of the activities on offer. The blessed geographic position of each lake permits a completely relaxing vacation that is, if one so wishes, near to city centers that are highly important in terms of art, history and culture – i.e. Milan, Brescia and Mantua.
Foodies and those passionate for fine cuisine could possibly be overwhelmed by the choice in store for the mas well: restaurants all over the lake district serve all the typical delicacies, including a long list of lake-inhabiting fish (carp, whitefish, trout, pike, and white bass), plus the excellent Garda olive oil, asparagus from Rogaro and Drezzo, and DOC wines like Chiaretto, Bardolino and Lugana.
All the lakes invite tourists to a singular and particular experience, beginning with Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. Here, the magnificent scenery was enough to inspire celebrated personages the likes of Catullus, Dante Alighieri, Goethe, Byron and Stendhal.
The communities facing the lake – Sirmione, with the Rocca Scaligera and Grotto of Catullus, and the Gardone Riviera, with its magical Art Nouveau buildings, Bogliaco, Campione and Limone. Garda is a spot where vacationers can truly customize their entire trip and stay: from ancient borgoes to vivacious and crowded downtowns, from lakeshores that are perfectly-tailored to families to amusement parks, and from natural reserves to natural spas (such as the famous terme at Sirmione and at Lazise).
Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second lake for extent, boasts spectacular views and a temperate climate, imposing mountains and green hills, forts and villas – all contributing to its status as an important touristic destination since the days of the “Grand Tour.” Lake Maggiore is also one of the most splendidly evocative locations in the world to practice windsurfing, while the surrounding greens are a great attraction for golfers. We highly recommend an excursion to the National Park of Val Grande, one of the foremost wilderness areas in Italy.
Lake Como, with its upside-down Y form, gave to the world the inventor Alessandro Volta and the writer Alessandro Manzoni, who set the book I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) the branch of the lake that contains Lecco. The lake’s center (i.e. center of the Y) features perhaps one of the most famous and awe-inspiring Italian images in the world: the beautiful panorama that comprises the fantastic Villa d’Este (Cernobbio), Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi (Bellagio), and Villa Passalacqua (Moltrasio).
Lake Como is the ne plus ultra in a number of aspects, and a paradise for those who enjoy practicing water sports, paragliding, trekking, horseback riding, mountain-biking, rock-climbing and golf (with 7 courses tucked into the surrounding greens).
Lake Iseo, the smallest of Lombardy’s “great lakes,” sits between the Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia. Admittedly, the real pearl of Lake Iseo is Montisola, the largest lake island in all of Europe. With summer comes the possibility to partake in a variety of water sports and, with winter, the fun of ski awaits in nearby Valcamonica, just 30 kilometers (19 miles) away.