It’s summertime in Italy, so there’s no better time to do as Europeans do and plan a getaway to a gorgeous Italian lake town. Idyllic and charming, Italy’s lake towns put cool, refreshing waters right at your feet and generally help you miss the busy crowds of major Italian cities. If you’re yearning to get away, here are a few of the most picturesque Italian lake towns that we think you should consider for your next trip.
Lake Como: Menaggio
Located along the western side of Lake Como, Menaggio is a favorite summer escape for visitors and locals alike. It’s dripping with historical significance and surrounded by jagged peaks; perfect for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts. It won’t be quiet in the summertime, but you’ll be able to enjoy a leisurely walk along the promenade or a boat ride on the lake. If you’re brave enough to jump into the cold water, you can access the swimming area from a pebble beach just north of town.
STAY: The Lake Como Hostel in Menaggio offers a great budget-friendly option. Rooms are clean, staff are friendly and you’ll have a killer view over Lake Como for much less cash than most nearby hotels charge.
Lake Trasimeno: Monte del Lago
With narrow cobblestone alleyways and terra cotta roofs, this little village offers wonderful views of Lake Trasimeno because it’s basically sticking out into the lake itself. This is a great destination for travelers who have an interest in the arts, as many Italian artists writers, and musicians throughout history used Monte del Lago as an artistic haven. Perhaps you are looking for an artist’s retreat as well; why not take a trip to Monte del Lago for a little lakeside inspiration?
STAY: Why not combine your lake visit with an agriturismo experience? For a reasonable price, you can rent an apartment in a villa like this one, which has lake views, a garden, a pool, spacious patio and is just a 10-minute walk to Zocco Castle.
Lake Bolsena: Marta
Characterized by an impressive clock tower, you can’t miss the village of Marta on the shores of Lake Bolsena. The clock tower is built on what remains of an old fortress built by Pope Urban IV, and the surrounding buildings are situated on a hill that leads down to the lakeshore. Every May, the town celebrates the ancient feast of Madonna del Monte, but in midsummer this quiet fishing village is a great place to relax and try local dishes. You may even take a boat ride around the nearby island of Martana and then come back to enjoy the evening markets down by the shore.
STAY: At Locanda da Otello you’ll feel like you’re staying with family—but in a good way. The lakefront B&B offers free breakfast and WiFi, and features an on-site, lakefront restaurant.
Lake Bracciano: Anguillara Sabazia
If you’d like to visit Rome but you’d also like to get out of Rome for some of your trip, head about 30 km northwest to the town of Anguillara Sabazia. This is a nice option for a getaway on Lake Bracciano because the heart of this medieval town sticks out into the lake, offering great views and nice natural areas. If you’re around in June, make sure to catch the events surrounding the annual Sagra de Pesce (Fish Festival) which include dancing, synchronized swimming, fireworks, and celebrating local dishes made with fresh lake fish.
STAY: Opt for the bright, airy, colorful and modern Domus Angularia, right in the heart of Anguillara Sabazia. This intimate property offers a terrace with lakes views, plus free breakfast and free WiFi. Put those extra funds toward one of the lake-view rooms—they’re worth it!
Lake Garda: Gargnano
This gorgeous Northern Italian lake town has long been a hit with Germans, and it’s easy to see why. With a shoreline characterized by colorful buildings and wonderful views of the surrounding mountains, the town of Gargnano stretches along the lake’s blue alpine waters. Just south of Gargnano, a 100-mile sailboat race attracts many visitors in September. But if you’re around in the midsummer, you’ll find all sorts of things to do such as hiking, sailing, windsurfing, horseback riding, or perhaps you may enjoy being serenaded by some local jazz musicians. If you wish, head up into the mountains to visit the blue waters of the narrow manmade Lake Valvestino, which formed in the 1960s after the construction of a dam.
STAY: While you can often find hotels in town starting at $68 on Travelocity, Lefay Resort & Spa is worth the splurge, if you can swing it. It’s the stuff that Instagram dreams are made of with its infinity pool overlooking the lake, and its 11-hectare grounds made up of natural park marked by gentle hills, terraces, forests and olive groves.
Lake Maggiore: Cannero Riviera
Like many Italian lake towns, Cannero Riviera is a semicircular cape that juts out into the water and offers spectacular views of the lake. Since it’s sheltered by mountains to its rear, Cannero Riviera enjoys a particularly mild climate that keeps it relatively warm and wet all year. Take a boat trip on the lake or enjoy swimming, sailing, surfing, angling, boating or scuba diving. If you’re around on the second Sunday in July, keep a lookout for the sea of floating candles during the procession of the Madonna del Carmelo in the evening; it’s sure to be a beautiful sight.
STAY: Take in beautiful views of the lake and charming town below from the rooftop terrace of the cozy three-room B&B Casa Forster. Breakfast is included; the home also features concierge services, free WiFi in public areas, a library and garden.
Have you been to a picturesque Italian lake town that we missed? Tell us about your trip in the comments!
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