Italy’s Hidden Gems – Lake Como and Lake Garda

Italy’s Lakes Region runs across the north central part of the country, bracketed to the north by the scenic Alps, and bordered on the south by fashionable Milan. Whether you’re relaxing by the shore with a glass of Valtellina wine, or hiking up Mount Stivo, or partaking in water sports with the kids, both Lake Como and Lake Garda offer a fun and carefree vacation for everyone. There are numerous villas to vacation in, gardens and churches to stroll, numerous vistas with lake views, and food so good that you will be unsure if you should board the plane home. Not only are the vacation rentals in WIMCO portfolio a great option for a family, but they also allow for easy access to the towns surrounding the lakes.

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Lake Como Day 1

While staying in Lake Como, at the elegant Villa Serena (BRV SER), there are various places to visit that positively add to its overall ambiance. On the first day there, take a water taxi or ferry to Como town and sip a cappuccino in the Piazza Cavour. The piazza is packed with food markets, souvenir shops, and wineries, the perfect place to buy friends and family an authentic Italian gift. Located in the center of town is the Cathedral of Como, which is accessible and designed with intricate detailing. Considered the last gothic Cathedral in Italy, its construction began in 1396 and was not completed until 1770. After visiting the Cathedral, a cozy restaurant for a lunch break is La Colombetta. This restaurant has a delicious array of food options, specializing in fresh seafood, an ideal meal while on the Lake. George Clooney and his wife have been spotted here as well, yet another reason to try it out! Once you’re full and happy, the Basilica di Sant’Abbondio is another must see in town, before taking a ride on a cable car towards Brunate. The funicular railway connects the towns of Como and Brunate, exhibiting magnificent views that are hard to beat. Both the green mountainside as well as the glistening water blend together and can be seen from above, making the steep incline a bit more doable for those who prefer sea level. On the way back to Villa Serena, stop by the Albergo Ristorante Vapore for dinner, a simple 10 minute walk to Torno the restaurant is inside an 18th century building with a lake view terrace and colorful garden.

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Lake Como Day 2

During day two of your visit in Lake Como, travel north to the areas of Bellagio and Tremezzina for another chockfull day of sightseeing and water activities. Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club offers fun outdoor activities such as kayaking and canoeing, either by tour or individual exploration. Tours of the lake are also available by foot or boat, allowing you to learn the history of the lake in an immersive way. When you’re in the mood for food, either sit back and relax at Enoteca Cava Turacciolo for a quaint eatery that serves delectable appertivos and small plates, such as the white fish del’Lago in light ‘Carpione’ sauce, or learn how to make a dish yourself! The food masters at Gusto Italiano Bellagio bring their participants throughout the town to purchase ingredients from local markets, combining adventure and uniqueness to this hands on experience. As the sun is beginning to set, sail across the lake to Tremezzina to visit various villas such as the Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlotta. Both are available for tourists viewing pleasure, and charming shops also line the town such as Fleur de Lis, which offers colorful bouquets and knick-knacks. To end the night, La Darsena is an enchanting restaurant, which sits right above the lake on a candle lit balcony.

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Next Stop: Lake Garda

Whether you are staying at the stunning Villa Laise (HII LAI), or have decided to take a day trip, Lake Garda is another beautiful destination in the Lakes Region. The train from Lake Como to Lake Garda is approximately three hours, passing through Milan, a renowned location for fashion and shopping. Either a bus or ferry can bring you to both ends of the lake, such as Riva del Garda, the tip of the lake, Sirmione, and various other towns that line the water. Riva del Garda is a beautiful location filled with delicious restaurants, hiking opportunities and of course, more water sports! Lake Garda thrives during the summer season and following the end of April tourists come from all over the world to relax in the Italian sun.

For those looking to gain a bit of adventure while on vacation, travel uphill to the Santa Barbara Church. A rocky footpath leads the way through green forests, and the climb is well work the workout. On the way up and down the mountain, take a breather at Bastione, to not only catch your breath, but some food, too. The Old Ponale Road is a second great hiking/biking option for stunning views, and the trek is manageable for all levels of expertise. Unwinding after a thrilling day, there are multiple dinner options to consider that are more than satisfying. Ristorante Kapuziner Vittoria is a homey place with original decorations and delicious plates ranging from Italian to German. Ristorante il re della busa is another choice known for exquisite dining and front row views of the lake.

Italy’s Lakes Region, and specifically Lake Como and Lake Garda, are the hidden gems of northern Italy, that reveal a superb landscape of both glistening blue water, and tall green mountains that rise high above the clouds. WIMCO offers beautiful villas for rent around the Lakes Region that are not only amazing getaway locations themselves, but they are also the ideal spot to travel to and from while exploring the charismatic towns lining the lakes.

Interested in more Italian adventures? Travel to the coast of Capri and read about the variety of restaurants offered with a water front view: The Complete Guide to Capri Part I

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