But first, please, even before considering a trip to the Italian Lake District, read our essay on this website, Can You Swim in an Italian Lake?
And remember: the lakes are meant to be seen from the lakes themselves or from the surrounding hills and mountains. The lakeside roads have some views, but nothing compared to those from a boat or from a mountain: And the roads can be crowded with traffic and therefore stressful.
Also remember: When going into Switzerland, take your passports, and DON’T drive on the Swiss toll road unless you are certain that your car rental agency has paid the annual tax which allows such driving. Otherwise, you risk a HEAVY fine!
Arrive and get acquainted with the particular village or town where you’ll be based for the next week or two.
The classic all-day boat excursion from Stresa or Pallanza or Baveno to the Borromean Islands for the palazzo, the gardens, and the white peacocks.
A day in the elegant lakeside resort of Stresa, with the morning or the afternoon spent at the Villa Pallavicino, a beautiful garden with a delightful zoo as well.
An excursion to Lake Orta: explore the delightful lakeside town of Orta San Giulio with lunch, perhaps, on the Isola San Giulio, reached by motorboat from the dock at Orta San Giulio. Later, a walk up the Sacro Monte or a motoring trip up the Valstrona to Campello or (longer) up the Valsesia to Rimella, where a particular Germanic dialect is spoken by descendants of Swiss Germans who migrated here in the 1400s.
The Villa Taranto Botanical Garden and the beautiful lakeside town of Pallanza
A day at Lake Lugano, both the elegant town of Lugano itselg and then around the lake to the little Italian enclave of Campione d’Italia for the casino.
Recover at home! Or spend the morning at one of the excellent sports centers which dot the lakes: often, there’s a tennis court, big swimming pool, sauna, boat rentals, windsurfing and water skiing possibilities.
A day in the Valgrande Nature Reserve, Italy’s largest wilderness. Fantastic hiking.
Milan – for a culture break plus unbelievable shopping and dining and fashion
A day on the east shore of Lake Maggiore, including a visit to the castle at Angera; to the charming, rather faded Ogliari Transport Museum in the village of Ranco; but most of all to the absolutely delightful “hilltown” of Castiglione Olona, a bit to the east, not far from Varese. Here, the so-called Colleggiata and adjacent baptistery, contain wonderful frescoes by the Florentine master Masolino. Four kilometers south of Castiglione, don’t miss the Parco Archeologico di Castelseprio.
A trip to Lake Como – it’s too much to see all in one day, so you choose which “arm” of the lake to concentrate on. If we were to choose, we would do it all by boat: Start in the city of Como itself and find a place to leave your car for the day. See the beautiful cathedral, plus the gardens fronting the lake, and then head for the pier. You can explore Cernobbio, Moltrasio, Menaggio, Varenna, and Bellagio, though we wouldn’t recommend doing all of those in one single day!
A car-free day, but action- and panorama-packed. BRING YOUR PASSPORT. Take the train up the west shore of Lake Maggiore all the way to Domodossola, and transfer to the Train of the Hundred Valleys, enjoying spectacular views, and which will take you all the way to delightful Locarno, located on the Swiss shore of Lake Maggiore. After exploring Locarno, board the ferry for your return trip down to Stresa for your return to your villa. Spectacular scenery!
Go to Domodossola again, this time by car, and then drive directly west, up the Valle Anzasca via Pontegrande and Macugnaga, to Pecetto. From here, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Matterhorn, which Italians call Monte Rosa. You can take chairlifts and funiculars to even more spectacular viewpoints. Bring your hiking boots and sticks if you’re so inclined.
Relax at home – you will need it if you do even half of the foregoing!
Arrivederci! And you thought there wouldn’t be enough to fill up two weeks! And we didn’t even have a chance to mention either the fantastic outlet shopping in the area or Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, where you can take a ride around the track in a race car