Italian glamour, mountain views and palazzo-topped islands
Lake Maggiore manages to be dramatic and romantic at the same time. Soaring mountains surround the water, while the shoreline is dotted with palatial villas and residences built by the rich and glamorous of the 19th century.
The main resort here is Stresa, nestled in sheltered Borromean Bay on the lake’s western shore. It’s a postcard of ostentatious villas and pristine gardens, with narrow backstreets that hide candlelit restaurants and wine bars pouring ruby-red Barolo and fizzy Franciacorta.
Stresa puts you in a prime position for exploring, too. The scenic Borromean Islands, home to lavish palazzos and elaborate terraced gardens, lie just offshore, while the Mottarone cable car whisks you up the mountainside for views over the lake and Alps beyond.
When it comes to days out, you could pop across to the lesser-visited shores of Lake Orta, or explore the boutique-lined streets and wedding-cake cathedral in Milan.
Flights to the Italian Lakes take around 2 hours from the UK.
Transfer time from Malpensa airport to Lake Maggiore is approximately 1 hour.
The Italian Lakes are at their best between April and October. June, July and August see temperatures soar to the high 20s (perfect for swimming and sunbathing), while the slightly cooler temperatures in April, May, September and October are ideal for those who want to spend a bit more time walking, cycling or sightseeing.
British citizens do not currently require a visa to visit Italy.
When you dine out in Italy, you will generally be charged a coperto (cover charge), which is for the bread, tablecloth, cutlery, etc. Tipping in Italy is not customary, but is always appreciated.
The official language of Italy is Italian. English is widely spoken too, so getting by is easy.