The Italian Lakes region known as Lombardy is a destination unlike no other in Italy. Steeped in history and culture, this region was named after the northern Lombards who conquered it from the Romans centuries ago. A commercial junction in Europe, Lombardy is famous for being the destination where emperors were crowned, but lately more famous for being one of the most idyllic places in Italy.
Visitors come to this region for the lakes, most heading for Lake Garda. However, although the beauty of this and other nearby lakes cannot be surpassed, the surrounding cities, towns and villages are full of architectural and historical attractions that cannot be ignored.
Lake Garda, also known as Lago di Garda, is the most popular as well as the biggest lake in the country. Where the lake is so wide, the breeze that flows off these calm waters changes the temperature of this area so that even visiting here at the hottest time of the year, leaves you able to enjoy it. The north part of the lake is beautified by the towering mountains nearby, with quaint little villages embellishing the vista. Head to the south of the lake where most of the holiday destinations are located, with views of the lush green hills in the background.
One of the most popular and charming of the many towns surrounding Lake Garda is Salo. With an atmosphere of old fashioned grandeur, especially with its 17th Century Town Hall which overlooks the lake. In the Duomo there are several paintings by Romanino that are guaranteed to amaze the senses.
If Lake Garda is the biggest lake in Italy then Lake Como is the most commended by those who visit it. Heavily visited by tourists, the area is still lush in the variety of different vegetation, giving off a definite romantic vibe. For nature lovers, Lake Como offers some fantastic hiking trails in the precipitous vicinity surrounding the lake.
For art lovers, head to the town of Como to visit the wonders housed inside the Duomo. The building itself is a piece of art in itself with its blushing pink windows and willowy pinnacles which are in the Gothic style. Yet the statues of both Pliny the Elder and Younger both date from the Renaissance period, bringing both styles together in harmonious balance.
For a fairytale setting head to Lake Orta, which translates as ‘Cinderella’. Although the lake is small, its calm blue waters gives off a romantic, dreamy atmosphere, particularly with the small island nestled in the centre. Not far from the medieval town of Orta San Giulio, the tapered cobbled streets are full of intrigue and culture but do get crowded on Sundays.
When you visit the Italian Lakes region, you are visiting an area that is saturated in all things beautiful – from the natural landscape to the towns and villages to the people themselves – and absorb that beauty within yourself.
Per Vogerl is Commercial Director at Sixt Rent a Car UK.