Whether you travel for culture, cuisine, scenery, or a little bit of everything, wondrous Italy has you covered for a luxurious European getaway. When you travel to Northern Italy, you can explore the Lakes Region in the foothills of the Alps. Jaw-dropping natural scenery, lavish accommodation, and exquisite dining using locally sourced ingredients are abundant, from Lake Como all the way to Lake Maggiore.
Located in the Lombardy region, Italy’s third-largest is shaped like an upside-down “Y”. The shoreline of Lake Como is dotted with resort towns with upscale restaurants, luxury hotels, and activities ashore and on the water.
Occupying a strategic spot at the junction of where the lake splits, Bellagio captures the essence of the Lake Region. Cobblestone streets such as Salita Antonio Mella are lined with boutiques, wine bars, and trattorias while both Parco di Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi Gardens grant beautiful views of the lake during summer when the flowers are in bloom.
Make a dinner reservation at Mistral Ristorante where Chef Ettore Bocchia weaves traditional Italian cooking with an innovative twist. Found within the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, the Michelin-starred restaurant grants views over the water.
Naturally, the namesake town is equally postcard-perfect with its 14th century cathedral and the riverfront Villa Olmo which has similarities to Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. Como occupies the southwestern shore of the lake with glorious views from both the waterside and from the Como-Brunate Funicular.
After a day of exploring, unwind at the Michelin-starred I Tigli in Theoria. A tasting menu and wine pairing are available at this fine dining restaurant within a former palace.
Given the size and shape of Lake Como, it is a challenge to drive the entire perimeter while on vacation. However, Bellagio is a convenient base for exploring the southern shoreline.
Situated west of Lake Como, Lake Maggiore is the second-largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland. Despite being equally handsome as Lake Como, Lake Maggiore is somewhat overlooked and will therefore appeal to those seeking an off-beat destination in Italy’s Lakes Region.
On the Piedmont side of the lake, Stresa is the principal resort town of Lake Maggiore with its cobbled alleys and elegant architecture. From there, you can take a trip to the Borromean Islands, including Isola Bella with its formal Italian-style gardens.
This trio of isles is also accessible from Verbania, the largest town on Lake Maggiore where the botanical gardens of Villa Taranto spring to life from May onwards. Luxury hotels flank the lakeside, offering unparalleled service and views. Housed within a prestigious Belle Époque building Grand Hotel Majestic is furnished with deluxe suites, a garden, a swimming pool, and a wellness center.
Over on the Lombardy side, Angera is a picturesque town overlooked by the medieval hilltop citadel, Rocca di Angera. After all, no Italian vacation is complete without a dose of history.
Lake Como and Maggiore may be visited as part of a wider Northern Italy itinerary. Otherwise, AmaWaterways offer an optional extension to Lake Como as part of their Rhine Castles and Swiss Alps river cruise.
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