The Italian Lakes

Jul 13, 2015

L’ Italia e trappo bella per appartenere solo agli italiani

“Italy is too beautiful for just Italians”, and one of the best examples of this are the regions from the northern Piedmont through the Lombardie to Verona. In Italy the ever popular destination, Piedmont, lies at the foot of and is surrounded on three sides by snowcapped Alps. Its’ varied countryside is some of the most beautiful in Italy. This region, with the “slow food” culinary dishes passed down from the Savoy dukes and Kings, historical towns and cities, rolling vine covered hills and towering mountains, was important in the formation of Italy 150 years ago. The savoy family was one of the most enduring and powerful monarchies Europe has ever seen. Turin, an elegant, royal and beautiful city with its’ Baroque architecture and cafes, museums, gardens, palaces, promenades and Piazzas invites you to wander and explore. The Palazzo Carignano with the Royal armory, the Cathedral-home of the “Shroud of Turin”, the Piazza Reale, the Egyptian Museo-Eizio, the theatres gardens and so much more are but a few of the attractions to see in this the heart of the Piedmont. Here you will encounter a wine and food culture well beyond pizza and pasta.
Piedmont Hill Town
The Royal Armory
Piazza San Carlo
Piazza Reale
The regions of Piedmont and Lombardy have been the connection between the Mediterrean Sea and Europe. These regions originally settled by the Romans, Longobords and Franks emerged in the Middle Ages and its’ castles, monasteries, cities, villages, and culture grew and flourished. Let’s enter the vine covered hills, drive through the pretty villages, and arrive at our lodging-an Agricultural Relais located in a vineyard. This wonderful place with an onsite winery will be our home for our stay. We will relax and enjoy a special treat-an Italian cooking class in the kitchen.
Lodging DiVino
Black Truffles
Piedmont with its’ limestone rich marl soil grows great grapes and is home to the famous Barbaresco red wines, the lightly frosty white dessert wine, and truffles. What can I say the truffle with its’ earthy flavor is the hallmark of haut cuisine-sorry caviar! They come in black, burgundy, and the most revered and valuable-white. The hillside village of Albi, with its’ famous fall festival, is especially known for these wonderful gems.
Piedmont Wine
Village of Albi
Grinzane Cavour Castle
Barbaresco Wine Grapes
Italy’s Lombardy lake country, running along the border with Switzerland showcases crystal clear azure blue deep glacier lakes, beautiful rolling scenery, snowcapped Mountains and small lakeside villages full of warm, friendly and inviting people. I, along with many local Italians enjoy Lake Orta. It is smaller and quieter than its’ larger neighbors and possesses a mysterious ethereal supernatural quality. It is easy to understand why this romantic lake has been an inspiration to writers like Butler, Browning, Byron and Balzac, and poets the likes of Gillian Clark and Carol Ann Duffy.
On the slopes of a steep hill-The Sacro Monte, we find the main village on the lake- Orta San Guilio. With its’ faded elegance and ochre charm, a frescoed town hall built on stilts, narrow streets, churches, and outbreaks of Baroque style, it commands the view of the lake and its’ beautiful island. Enchanted Isola san Giulio is dominated by a Basilica featuring walls covered with 400 year old frescoes. Wandering the little islands’ lanes begets the question of who is fortunate enough to own these lakeside villas.
Lake Orto
Lake Maggiore’s northern end is actually in Switzerland but the towns there share the Italian influence and flavor. The quaint village of Stressa is the gateway to the prestigious Barromean Isles. Of these Isola Bella with the Palace, fabulous tiered gardens and white peacocks, reached by a short boat ride, is the most famous. At the southern end of the lake, sitting high on a cliff, 14th Century Rocco Barroneo and the Medival gardens along with its’ beautifully restored rooms and large doll museum, is one of Italy’s finest.
Isola Bella
Rocco Barromeo
Barromean Islands Lake Como is Italy’s most popular lake and the lavish villas that line its shores are home to the rich and the famous including George Clooney. The villages that dot the shoreline are connected by ferries and the scenery, including that of the Swiss Alps that seem to jump down into the water of the 1300’ deep glacier lake, offer the grandiosity that is the lakes’ calling card. The best known of the villages-Bellagio is so natural and perfect that it makes you think this is what life is supposed to be about. Its’ narrow streets and stairways, shops, restaurants, and gardens like Villa Melzi, inspire a “nobody here wakes up with a headache or ulcer“view of life. In the largest town- Como you find a historic city center with a 14th century Cathedral, the Castillo Baradello, the ancient town hall, the old town walls and a wonderful promenade to stroll along the lakeside. From expresso at sunrise to wine at sunset to great cuisine in between you can find it here.
Lake Como Shoreline
Villa Melzi Gardens
Historic, artistic fashionable Milan, has a thriving cultural scene from festivals to opera, and fashion to museums. The Piazza is the essence of any Italian city or town and the Piazza Duomo, with the immense Gothic Cathedral, reveals the fact that Milan has always thought big. From the piazza you can enter the glass roofed Galleria- Vittorio Emanuele, go to the Teatro alla Scala, or the 15th Century Castello Sforza. Another must see is DeVinci’s“-the last Supper” located in the convent church Santa Maria Della Grazie. Piazza Duomo
Galleria Vittorio Emanuel
From Milan it is a short drive to Lake Garda the longest lake in Lombardie. Gardas’shoreline varies from beaches, picturesque villages, medival castles,lakeside promenades, and to the North-rocky cliffs. Various areas around the lake are famous for these wines, especially Bardolino- a light red great with seafood, the white Custoza, and the ever growing popular-Lugana-a full bodied white. Sirmione, a village since the stoneage, and a holiday spot for the Romans, is always my choice for lodging in this area. Stroll through the streets with their shops and restaurants, visit the historic 150 A.D. Grotto de Cattulo, the Castello Roco Scaligero, or relax at one of the great thermal spas-“terme di Catallo”.
Sirmione Peninsula
Grotto of Catullus
Nearby Verona, the beautiful city on the Adige River, home to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, has cultural and historic landmarks that rival any Italian city. The historic center, formally the Roman Forum, Piazza delle Erbe – surrounded by medieval buildings is a great place to start your explorations of this city. Let’s move on to Juliet’s house, balcony and museum, visit the mostly intact 1st century ancient Roman arena, the Roman theatre and archeological museum, the great Duomo Verona with the amazing frescoes, and the 14th century Castel Veccio- a great example of medival architecture due to the towers and fortified bridge.
Arena - Verona
Castle Veccio
This whistle stop tour of the Piedmont and Lombardy regions gives you a glimpse but not the IMAX view you will get when you arrive and immerse yourself in the history, culture and natural beauty of this region. If you are looking for something special, then using our local knowledge we would be delighted to propose that you join the long list of visitors that have made the journey to this magical region of Italy. In addition to this area we can propose additional days in Venice, Tuscany or Rome.
Barbaresco Wine Tasting

Vieni a travarci presto (come and see us soon)


Europe unguided
By Dan Krull