Still wa­ters

Move over Como: Anna Tyzack ex­plores the lesser­known–and beau­ti­fully tourist-free–lakes of Italy

Country Life Every Week - - Undiscovered Italian Lakes -

With dra­matic views across moody wa­ters to Re­nais­sance towns set into their moun­tain­ous sides, it’s no won­der that homes be­side Lakes Garda, Mag­giore and Como are among the most sought-af­ter in italy. in­creas­ingly, how­ever, buy­ers are look­ing to the coun­try’s qui­eter, lesser­known lakes, where wa­ter­front prop­er­ties with equally jaw­drop­ping views cost up to 40% less. ‘You can hear the bird­song and the church bells and, some days, you see no tourists at all,’ ex­plains Gemma Bruce of Casa & Coun­try ital­ian Prop­erty.

Among the most beau­ti­ful is millpond-like Orta, an hour’s drive from Lake Mag­giore and within easy reach of Mi­lan. Eight miles long, it has an ethe­real beauty and at its cen­tre is an is­land, isola San Gi­ulio, crowned by a 14th-cen­tury basil­ica.

An­other is Lake iseo, be­tween Como and Garda, sur­rounded by walk­ing trails and tiny set­tle­ments with elab­o­rate churches and el­e­gant man­sions. On the shores is a hand­ful of un­der­stated, at­trac­tive towns, such as Lo­vere, iseo and Sarico, with lively restau­rants and gela­te­rias that over­look Europe’s largest lake is­land, Monte isola, which boasts olive groves, vines and a cob­bled vil­lage.

Fur­ther south, Lake Bolsena, in the crater of an ex­tinct vol­cano near Orvi­eto, and Lake trasi­meno, sur­rounded by a na­tional park, are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from Rome. these

more cen­tral lakes lie amid gen­tle hills and vine­yards; trasi­meno is a short drive from the vil­lage of Mon­tepul­ciano, known for its wine and olive oil. ‘trasi­meno is sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful, rolling coun­try­side, yet there is also a cou­ple of yacht clubs and the town of Castiglione del Lago has bou­tiques and a beach where you can en­joy an Aperol Spritz as the sun goes down,’ Miss Bruce adds.

Smaller lakes such as Chiusi, on the bor­der of tus­cany and Um­bria, and Cor­bara, to the east of Bolsena near Orvi­eto, also at­tract buy­ers, ac­cord­ing to Elisa Biglia of Great Es­tate. they don’t of­fer as much in the way of wa­ter­sports and restau­rants as the larger lakes, but they pro­vide a breath­tak­ing back­drop to a stone farm­house amid its own land. ‘You can find a beau­ti­ful house and gar­den with a pool for less than €1 mil­lion over­look­ing tran­quil wa­ters,’ says Miss Biglia.

in­ter­est con­tin­ues to grow, she be­lieves, as buy­ers search for pri­vacy and seclu­sion. ‘these lakes are just as pretty and ac­ces­si­ble as the larger ones, yet are less ex­pen­sive. they’re also more peace­ful—it’s as if you’re step­ping back in time.’

Lake Trasi­meno, €2.2 mil­lion A re­stored villa sur­rounded by park­land and the Um­brian hills near the lake­side Castiglione del Lago and Mon­tepul­ciano, with views over Lake Chiusi. It has large liv­ing rooms with tra­di­tional fea­tures, a sweep­ing stair­case up to six bed­rooms and a four-bed­room an­nexe. Great Es­tate (00 39 0578 59050; www.great­es­tate.it)

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