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 Italian 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 holiday won’t be complete without these top six activities:

Visit an Olive Oil Factory

Italian lakes

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

Hire a Boat

Italian lakes

Although guided cruises provide excellent introductions to the area, it’s worth hiring your own boat for the freedom to go wherever you please. There is a range of Lake Como boat hire companies that have a range of motorboats and sailing dinghies available – just remember to book in advance as early as possible.

Hike the Mountain Trails

Italian lakes

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.

Take a trip to Switzerland

Italian lakes | The Ceresio Lake (Ticino, Switzerland)), landscape at summer. Church of Santa Maria del Sasso seen from Brusino Arsizio

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. Maybe spend Christmas in Switzerland to experience their wonderful traditions. 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.

Visit the Duomo in Como

Italian lakes

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.

Drink an Aperol Spritz

Italian lakes

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.

The Italian Lakes region has so much to offer, and so does the rest of Italy. Check out or choice of The Best Italian Lakes! And why not look for some travel inspiration while browsing our other Italian villas?

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