AU­GUST AU BORD DU LAC

Where Milan - - CONTENTS - BY GI­U­LIA MINERO

There's no bet­ter time than this month to plan a short day trip from Mi­lan…

Though dif­fer­ent one from the other, Lom­bardy’s five lakes all have one thing in com­mon: a unique land­scape en­hanced by lush veg­e­ta­tion and panoramic views. Au­gust is syn­ony­mous with a day at the lake!

There's no bet­ter time than sum­mer to start plan­ning an out-of-town week­end, per­haps to search for some respite from the heat at the edge of a lake. Start pack­ing, this is a great op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover the nat­u­ral trea­sures that make Lom­bardy, ‘The Lake District' par ex­cel­lence.

DIS­COV­ER­ING HIS­TORY ON LAKE MAG­GIORE

Lake Mag­giore is Italy's se­cond largest lake; its shores wash up on the banks of Pied­mont and Lom­bardy, and its north­ern basin lies in the moun­tain­ous re­gion of Switzer­land. It is steeped in his­tory, abound­ing in rocky coves that cre­ate real nat­u­ral ter­races with a panoramic view. Dur­ing past cen­turies, aris­to­crats and wealthy bour­geois lo­cals hol­i­dayed here dur­ing the sum­mer months, and traces of its lux­u­ri­ous past are still ap­par­ent in sev­eral of its bet­ter-known lake­side des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing Arona and

Stresa. The lat­ter, with its pedes­trian streets that are closed to traf­fic and ded­i­cated to shop­ping, is the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors want­ing to in­dulge in some re­tail ther­apy, or to re­lax at one of its de­lec­ta­ble wa­ter­front cafes or restau­rants. In Au­gust, its banks are en­livened by the an­nual In­ter­na­tional ‘Stresa Fes­ti­val' fea­tur­ing an ac­tion-packed cal­en­dar of clas­si­cal mu­sic con­certs and live dance per­for­mances (www.stre­safes­ti­val.eu). Lake Mag­giore's smart, low-slung white fer­ries shut­tle back and forth be­tween the belle époque re­sort of Stresa and Isola Bella, the jewel of the Bor­romeo fam­ily, dom­i­nated by mon­u­men­tal ter­raced gar­dens and the 17th-cen­tury res­i­dence of Palazzo Bor­romeo, whose rooms and un­der­ground caves have now been trans­formed into a mu­seum with col­lec­tions by well-known artists, price­less fur­ni­ture, mar­bles and neo-clas­si­cal stuc­coes. If you've de­cided to ex­plore the trea­sures of Lake Mag­giore, we rec­om­mend a visit to the city of Angera, whose star at­trac­tion is its mas­sive 13th-cen­tury hill­top cas­tle. In ad­di­tion to of­fer­ing a breath­tak­ing view over the lake, its im­pres­sive ar­chi­tec­ture and lush gar­dens still re­main to this day. End your tour on a high note with a re­vi­tal­iz­ing lunch at one of the area's charm­ing eater­ies (www.bor­romeo­tur­ismo.it). The fish menu at the fan­tas­tic Miche­lin-starred Sole di Ranco restau­rant may be ideal. The restau­rant

serves con­tem­po­rary cui­sine ac­com­pa­nied by a fab­u­lous se­lec­tion of fine Ital­ian and in­ter­na­tional wines and spir­its (www.il­soledi­ranco.it).

FEEL LIKE A STAR AT LAKE COMO If you're in search of a chic des­ti­na­tion, where you might catch sight of an A-lis­ter or movie star, in­clud­ing first and fore­most George Clooney, Lake Como is your go-to des­ti­na­tion. Renowned for hav­ing in­spired Alessan­dro Man­zoni to write his fa­mous novel ‘The Be­trothed', it is the most spec­tac­u­lar of the re­gion's three ma­jor lakes. Wind­ing and shaped like an up­side-down Y, it dom­i­nates the prov­inces of Como and Lecco, with each arm as­sum­ing a dif­fer­ent iden­tity de­pend­ing on its lo­ca­tion. If you find your­self on the Como side, make sure to visit the Gothic Cathe­dral and the Ro­manesque basil­i­cas of Sant'Ab­bon­dio and San Fedele. Un­til 31 Oc­to­ber, you can take ad­van­tage of the ex­tra­or­di­nary open­ing of the mon­u­men­tal com­plex of the Ro­man Baths dat­ing back to the 1st cen­tury A.D. The baths can be vis­ited free-of-charge on Tues­day and Thurs­day from 10am to 2pm and on Satur­day from 10am to 6pm (www.lake­como.it). If all of the sight­see­ing in Como has made you hun­gry, head to the I Tigli restau­rant in Theo­ria. Lo­cated in the heart of a 15th-cen­tury bishop's palace, this de­light­ful Miche­lin-starred restau­rant of­fers guests so­phis­ti­cated, con­tem­po­rary cui­sine, served on a glass-fronted pa­tio with a view over the in­ner court­yard (www. theo­ria­gallery.it). Af­ter your meal go to­wards Cer­nob­bio (sit­u­ated north-east of Como) and take a breather at Villa Erba, cur­rently a go-to des­ti­na­tion for events re­lated to the world of fash­ion, col­lectibles and motoring. With its spec­tac­u­lar lake­side view, it is renowned for hav­ing been the sum­mer home of di­rec­tor Luchino Vis­conti, when he was a child (www.vil­laerba.it). Al­ter­nately, head north in the di­rec­tion of Isola Co­macina, a tri­umph of lush Mediter­ranean veg­e­ta­tion and a per­fect es­cape from the sum­mer heat. If his­toric dwellings are your pas­sion, we strongly sug­gest a visit to Villa del Bal­bianello, one of the ‘pearls' of the lake, and the ro­man­tic set­ting for a va­ri­ety of movie scenes. Do you re­mem­ber the mar­riage be­tween Anakin Sky­walker and Padmé Ami­dala in Star Wars: The At­tack of the Clones? Its ter­race played a lead­ing role! Al­low your­self to be cap­ti­vated by the Baroque beauty of Villa Car­lotta, em­bel­lished with stat­ues and sculp­tures by An­to­nio Canova. In ad­di­tion to host­ing ex­hi­bi­tions year-round, it boasts an ac­tion­packed events cal­en­dar in sum­mer. Save the date! On 4 Au­gust, at 8.30pm, the villa will stage a unique per­for­mance of ‘Amor Vincit Om­nia' a piano and vi­olin con­certo pay­ing homage to the sym­phonies of Beethoven and Schu­bert (lake­co­mofes­ti­val.com). The charm­ing town of Bel­la­gio, sit­u­ated at the in­ter­sec­tion of the in­verted Y shape that char­ac­ter­izes Lake Como, is an ab­so­lute

must-see. Af­ter ex­plor­ing its trea­sures, take a breather and en­joy a sun­downer with a great lake­side view.

LAKE ORTA, THE SE­CRET LIT­TLE SIS­TER OF THE ITAL­IAN LAKES French author, Honoré de Balzac called Orta's is­land “a spot coyly hid­den and left to na­ture, a wild gar­den” and th­ese words used to de­scribe this pocket-sized lake ly­ing at the foot of the moun­tains still ring true to­day. Lo­cated ap­prox­i­mately 80km from Mi­lan, and sur­rounded by ver­dant hills, Lake Orta is the ideal des­ti­na­tion for those wish­ing to spend a re­lax­ing day while dis­cov­er­ing its his­tory. Sit­u­ated in the heart of the Lake and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from the main­land via ferry boat, the Is­land of San Gi­ulio is a must-visit des­ti­na­tion for a quiet stroll and the per­fect place to com­mune with na­ture (www.orta.net). It is not by chance that the Is­land is tra­versed by the ‘Road of Si­lence and Med­i­ta­tion', a nar­row path con­nect­ing the jetty to a small monastery, a Ro­manesque basil­ica and Palazzo Vescov­ile. If you're a fan of folk­lore and lo­cal fes­ti­vals, head to the city of Omegna where, on 20 and 27 Au­gust, you can ad­mire one of the numer­ous dis­plays of fire­works that en­liven the banks of the lake. Al­ter­nately, if you'd like to sam­ple the flavours of Pied­mont cui­sine, we rec­om­mend a visit to the small town of Arola where you can de­light your taste buds with gen­uine, home-cooked food served at Ristorante

La Zucca (Face­book: Ristorante La Zucca), while en­joy­ing the idyl­lic scenery. Villa Crespi in Orta San Gi­ulio is an­other great op­tion for those search­ing for some­thing more so­phis­ti­cated. Set within a beau­ti­ful park, the Villa's restau­rant is helmed by two-Miche­lin­starred chef An­tonino Can­navac­ci­uolo, whose cre­ative cui­sine will de­light your palate with un­usual pair­ings, lo­cally-sourced in­gre­di­ents and a se­lec­tion of the finest vin­tages (www. vil­lacrespi.it).

LAKE ISEO, A PLEAS­ING DIS­COV­ERY Due to its phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance, Lake Iseo is af­fec­tion­ately re­ferred to by the lo­cals as ‘Lit­tle Capri'. Like the Is­land in Cam­pa­nia, it has steep rock faces that plunge into the lake. Though not as well-known as its Lom­bard coun­ter­parts, it is no less ap­peal­ing. The small streets skirt­ing the lake of­fer mag­nif­i­cent views of the sur­round­ing scenery and the beaches carved out in the coves ly­ing below it. If you're feel­ing en­er­getic, take ad­van­tage of the beau­ti­ful weather and walk up to one of the area's small lo­cal churches, for ex­am­ple, the Church of San Lorenzo in Cas­tro (www.ise­o­lake.info). If all this walk­ing has made you hun­gry, you can en­joy a ro­man­tic din­ner at the I Due Roc­coli Restau­rant in Iseo. The restau­rant serves mouth wa­ter­ing tra­di­tional cui­sine on its stone pa­tio, adorned with old­world fur­ni­ture. End your day's out­ing and meal on a high note with a glass of ‘bub­bly' from the nearby Fran­ci­a­corta re­gion (www.idue­roc­coli.com).

LAKE GARDA: A BLEND OF SPORT AND CUL­TURE If you're feel­ing ac­tive and would like to dis­cover what lies be­yond the con­fines of Mi­lan, then Lake Garda could be ex­actly what you're look­ing for. Sur­rounded by three dis­tinct re­gions – Lom­bardy, Trentino Al­toAdige and the Veneto – the lake's cul­tural di­ver­sity and wind-ruf­fled waters make it a par­adise for wa­ter sports and more.

Garda­land, one of Italy's largest amuse­ment parks, boasts sev­eral of the coun­try's most fa­mous at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing roller coast­ers, sim­u­la­tors and theme parks de­signed to ap­peal to vis­i­tors of all ages (www.garda­land. it). Al­ter­nately, if you're keen to learn more about Ital­ian his­tory and cul­ture, head to the Lake's north-eastern shore to visit the Vit­to­ri­ale degli Ital­iani (The Shrine of Ital­ian Vic­to­ries) the house-mu­seum ded­i­cated to renowned poet and pa­triot Gabriele D'An­nun­zio, where you can ad­mire mem­o­ra­bilia, air­planes and the vast li­brary that be­longed to the writer. The venue is open daily from 9am to 8pm and guided tours are avail­able (www.vit­to­ri­ale.it). End your trip of dis­cov­ery with a stopover in Sirmione, a spa town sit­u­ated on the edge of the lake. Recharge your bat­ter­ies and in­dulge in a ther­a­peu­tic mud or ther­mal wa­ter treat­ment, an in­vig­o­rat­ing mas­sage or a whirlpool ex­pe­ri­ence fol­lowed by a mouth wa­ter­ing can­dle-lit din­ner at the La Ru­cola restau­rant which serves lo­cal dishes up­graded with a cre­ative twist (www.ris­toran­te­laru­cola.it).

Sirmione, Lake Garda

Garda­land

Isola Bella, Lake Mag­giore

Arona, Lake Mag­giore

Lake Iseo

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