Lakes in Lombardy: 5 unmissable experiences
The lakes of Lombardy are especially stunning between the end of summer and start of autumn. Here are five tips for an unforgettable day out: from Gardone Riviera to Comacina island on Lake Como, whose shores are ideal for cyclists.
1. CASA D’ANNUNZIO IN GARDONE RIVIERA
Stroll along the lake side among palms and orange trees. Linger in an open-air cafe to admire the landscape of Monte Baldo. A few hours in the Hellen – Hruska botanical gardens with plants from five continents, Cryptomeria japonica offers shade to Tibet primroses and the sculptures are by great artists such as Roy Lichtenstein.. At the end of the season, when the temperature drops, wandering around Gardone Riviera is more pleasant than ever. Cross the threshold of the Vittoriale, final home of Gabriele D'Annunzio, to be catapulted headlong into a parallel universe. Prepare to be welcomed by 10,000 objects and 33,000 books – and this is just one of the wonders of this citadel state.
For other recommendations see the destination Lake Garda
2. LAKE ISEO BY BIKE
The fittest cyclists pedal round the entire lake, but you needn't toil for 65 km to have fun on a bike at Lake Iseo. There are cycle paths for all fitness levels and you can hire bikes of all kinds at Iseo: city bikes, mountain bikes, electric bikes and electric MTBs, even for children. Once in the saddle, you can take the Panoramic road to the Paratico Brescia cycle path and head for the Torbiere del Sebino nature reserve, stopping off near S. Pietro in Lamosa monastery. Here you can park your bike and enter the wetlands on foot using footpaths and wooden bridges. The Franciacorta Brut Green Route starting in Paratico and passing through villages and vineyards is three times longer. Another option is to board a ferry for Monte Isola, one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Cars are banned here. Bicycles, however, are highly recommended.
More tips for experiencing Lombardy by bike
3. IN VAL DI MELLO, LOMBARDY’S ANSWER TO YOSEMITE
Rivers, streams, woodlands, the greenest meadows and pure air. Val di Mello, renowned as the Lombard version of Yosemite is a tributary valley of Val Masino in the province of Sondrio and a perfect destination for a day out to recharge your batteries. Park your car in the San Martino car park and continue on foot along the flat path alongside the stream. You will soon arrive at the lake, a small emerald green patch of water reflecting trees and mountains. Next step is the Rasega refuge. A dish of polenta will fortify you on your way down to admire the waterfall. On your return, take the footpath on the south- east slope to see the valley from another angle.
All Active & Green destinations in Lombardy
4. ON LAGO MAGGIORE, AT ROCCA DI ANGERA
Rocca di Angera is built on a rocky spur overlooking the southern shores of Lake Maggiore and offers stupendous views. You can also visit its Historical Rooms with their fresco cycle and a 2000 square metre Mediaeval Garden that will transport you back in time. The Rocca is owned by the Borromeo family, which bought it in 1449. It houses the largest doll and toy museum in Europe. This year, a new exhibition space devoted to contemporary art was opened in the Scaligera Wing. The first exhibition project, Continuum, showcases the work of seven leading artists, from Vanessa Beecroft to Daniel Buren.
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5. COMACINA ISLAND ON LAKE COMO
The only island on Lake Como is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in northern Italy. It extends for approximately 600 m and is only 200 m wide. It is covered by a dense vegetation of olive trees, limes, laurels, mulberries and hornbeams. It can be reached in taxi boat from Ossuccio. Once on the island, you can admire the Basilica di S. Eufemia, a marble colonnade under the floor of the church of S. Giovanni Battista and other finds. The three houses in Rationalist style, built in 1940 to a design by Pietro Lingeri, provide residences for artists seeking inspiration in the silence of the island. Other sites worth seeing on the mainland include the Antiquarian Museum and the Sacred Mountain di Ossuccio, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For other experiences on Lake Como