Any region that claims to have the most beautiful scenery in the country always risks making a slightly grandiose assertion – but in Italy, the Northern Lakes may actually have a point. In addition to the charms of Como, Garda and the lesser-known lakes, the towering peaks, historic villages and sandy beaches help to complete a truly idyllic picture. Although it’s tempting to spend a good few hours in a deck chair just admiring the views, your Italian Lake holidays aren’t complete without these top six activities:

Visit an olive oil factory

The Vanini family has been producing cold pressed olive oil in Lenno since 1850, picking up celebrity chef fans like Jamie Oliver on the way. Visit the factory to learn about the manufacturing process and buy a few exclusive bottles of this liquid gold to bring home.

olive oil 22

Olive Oil – Flickr – Galaxy Hotel Iraklio

Hire a boat

Although guided cruises provide great introductions to the area, it’s worth hiring your own boat for the freedom to go wherever you please. Lake Como Boat Hire has a range of motorboats and sailing dinghies available – just remember to book in advance as early as possible.

italian lakes

Italian Lakes – Flickr

Hike the mountain trails

Lake Como has been popular with romantic walkers ever since Wordsworth called the area “a treasure whom the earth keeps to herself” back in the 1790s. The walk from Como to Bellagio is particularly picturesque, and is easy to access from our Villa Galleta. Although the complete trail would take more than a day to complete, you can enjoy a tour of the highlights by starting at Como, taking the funicular up to Brunate, following the path as far as the harbour town of Torno and then getting a boat back to Como.

hiking unsplash

Hiking-Unsplash

Take a trip to Switzerland

Up there in the mountains, it’s easy for the borders between countries to get a little blurred. If you want to mix up your rural idyll with some big-city fun, drive 45 minutes to Lugano in Switzerland. Designer shops with glittering window displays line Via Nassa, and the city is also home to an impressive selection of art galleries and specialist museums.

Mauro Cristarella Orestano

Switzerland – Lugano – Mauro Cristarella Orestano

Visit the Duomoin Como

Como Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in the Lakes, said to be the last gothic cathedral built in Italy. It took over three centuries to complete, and now houses 19th century sculptures, ancient tapestries, and paintings by celebrated Italian Renaissance artists.

Duomoin Como

Duomoin Como

Drink an Aperol Spiritz

The bright orange aperitif Aperol is currently taking Europe by storm. The drink is originally from Venice, but has been enthusiastically adopted by people enjoying holidays throughout the Italian Lakes. Bitter Aperol, local prosecco, sweet orange juice and soda water combine to create the perfect pre-dinner cocktail.

Aperol

Aperol – Flickr

And if the Italian Lakes are not your cup of tea, why not look for some travel inspiration while browsing our other Italian villas?

Photo credit: Lead image via Gian Luca Ponti, Lugano fountain image via Jon Rawlinson , olive oil image via USDAgov , Como image via becosky… and Aperol Spritz via Tim Lucas

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