What to say about the lakes of Italy? I guess I’ll start with this thought: Lake Como is not the only lake in the country! Yes, I am aware that George Clooney owns a home there. I know who George Clooney is. I get it. But let’s move past this fact, shall we? Because there are many other beautiful lakes in northern Italy to explore! So let’s get started!
Why not start with the biggest? Lago di Garda, aka Lake Garda, is the largest lake in Italy! It is also located conveniently an hour or so by train from Milan. This lake seems to be much more “authentic” in the sense that it is a popular getaway for Italian citizens especially since it is conveniently situated between Milan and Venice.
This lake is absolutely beautiful and, in a sense, speaks for itself (which is why I’ve included so many photos in this post!). The northern shore of the lake is surrounded by hills and mountains, but the southern part is easily reachable from Milan. The two towns which I visited near this lake are called Desenzano del Garda and Sirmione – both had their own charms! There are beautiful views of the Alps across the lake from Desenzano, which was historically a favorite vacation spot of those from Verona (even by the first century!). There was also many adorable places to get gelato and the vibrantly-colored buildings were very refreshing.
Sirmione was in some ways even more special. This town is situated at the end of a small peninsula which juts out into the lake. Sirmione’s beauty has clearly had an effect on many intellectuals and artists; it has been described in a poem by Tennyson, written about by many Italian writers such as Carducci, and was the location of a villa owned by famed opera star Maria Callas! The cool thing about Sirmione is that there is a castle…called the Scaliger Castle, built in the 13th century. This is a real life medieval fort, with a moat and two drawbridges.
Another great lake trip was a day trip to Lago Maggiore. This lake is the second-largest in Italy and is located northwest of Milan (whereas Garda is east of Milan!). Maggiore connects Italy with Switzerland, so if you had enough time you could actually take a ferry across the whole lake…just don’t forget your passport! Stresa is a great town on the southern shore with cute restaurants and easy 10-min ferries to the nearby Borromean Islands. These islands are not to be missed! The most impressive one is arguably Isola Bella (literally “beautiful island”). This tiny island boasts a huge palace with the most impressive gardens I have ever seen! Getting to Lago Maggiore/Stresa takes only an hour. In conclusion, if you’re looking for a wonderful lake trip and craving some spectacular views of water and mountains, I would highly recommend you stop dreaming about George Clooney’s villa and instead hop on an hour-long train to either Lago di Garda or Lago Maggiore! And bring some sunscreen while you’re at it.
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<p>As an aspiring soprano opera singer, it is very clear why I chose to study abroad in Milan, the very city which houses the famous La Scala opera house! From St. Louis, MO originally, I currently study voice performance and Italian at Brandeis University near Boston, MA. I am an avid reader, dessert-enthusiast, and enjoy animals and taking leisurely strolls where I happen upon interesting people and places to explore. I am a triplet (with 2 brothers!) but am excited to be on my own, meeting new people and learning a bunch from locals and other students!</p>