The Italian Lake District ★★

The Italian Lake District

The lakes are among Northern Italy's greatest treasures

Bellagio and Lake Como (Photo by Luca Casartelli)

Lake Como is the beauty queen of the Italian lakes

Torbole at the northern end of Lake Garda (Photo by Ampfinger)

The lake with a bit of everything for everybody, from ancient ruins to lakeside promenades, historic villas to tiny villages, and medieval castles to adrenaline sports


      Poets, writers, composers, and mere mortals have been rhapsodizing about the Italian lakes for centuries—most vocally since the 18th century, when it became de rigueur for travelers taking the Grand Tour to descend through the Alps and enjoy their first days on Italian soil on the shores of the lakes. Everyone from Catullus to Ernest Hemingway has sung their praises.

      Stretching from the Piedmont border across northern Lombardy to the Veneto border, backed by the Alps and ringed by lush gardens and verdant forests, each has its own charms and, accordingly, its own enthusiasts.

      Not least among these charms are the lakes' easy accessibility to many Italian cities, making them ideal for short retreats:

      Lake Maggiore and Lake Como are both less than an hour’s distance from Milan, and Lake Garda is tantalizingly close to Venice, Verona, and Mantua.

      The Italian Lake District trip planner

      Useful Italian phrases

      Useful Italian for rail travel

      English (inglese) Italian (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
      Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
      ...train station la ferroviaria [or] la stazione lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah [or] lah stat-zee-YO-nay
      ticket un biglietto oon beel-YET-toh
      first class prima classe PREE-mah CLAH-say
      second class seconda classe say-CONE-dah CLAH-say
      one way solo andata SO-low ahn-DAHT-tah
      round trip (return) andata e ritorno ahn-DAH-tah ay ree-TOUR-noh
      Just the supplement Soltanto il supplemento soul-TAHN-toh eel sou-play-MEN-toh
      Just a seat reservation Soltanto una prenotazione soal-TAHN-toh oo-nah pray-no-tah-tsee-YOH-nay
      I have a Eurailpass Ho il Eurailpass oh eel YOO-rail-pahs
      sleeping couchette una cucetta oo-nah koo-CHET-tah
      berth in a sleeping car un posto nel vagone letto oon POH-sto nell vah-GOAN-nay LET-toh
      track binario been-AR-ree-yoh
      train treno TRE-no
      car (carriage) carozza ka-RO-tza
      seat posto PO-sto
      departures partenze par-TEN-zay
      arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
      information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay
      left luggage deposito bagagli day-PO-zee-toh ba-GAHL-yee
      punch your ticket timbrare il biglietto teem-BRA-ray eel beel-YET-toh
      Is this the right platform for the Rome train? E questo il binario per il treno à Roma? ay KWAY-sto eel been-AR-ree-yo pair eel TRE-no ah RO-ma? 
      delayed in retardo een ree-TAR-do
      strike sciopero SHO-pair-oh
      Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
      Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
      Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
      City / Train station names
      English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Main station
      Rome Roma Termini
      Florence Firenze Santa Maria Novella
      Venice Venezia Santa Lucia
      Milan Milano Centrale
      Genoa Genova Porta Principe
      Naples Napoli Centrale
      Leghorn Livorno Centrale
      Turin Torino Porta Nuova

      Useful Italian for air travel

      English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
      Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
      the airport l'aeroporto LAHW-ro-port-oh
      the airplane l'aereo LAIR-reh-oh
      terminal terminal TEAR-me-nahl
      flight volo VOH-lo
      gate uscita d'imbarco oo-SHEE-tah deem-BARK-oh
      to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
      to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
      straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
      keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
      departures partenze par-TEN-zay
      arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
      delayed in ritardo een ree-TAR-doh
      on time in orario een oh-RAH-ree-yo
      early in avanti een ah-VAHN-tee
      boarding imbarco eem-BARK-o
      connecting flight la coincidenza la ko-een-chee-DEN-za
      check-in accettazione ah-chet-ta-zee-YO-nee
      immigration controllo passaporti cone-TRO-lo pah-sa-POR-tee
      security check controllo di sicurezza kohn-TRO-lo dee see-kur-AY-tzah
      customs dogana do-GA-na
      shuttle la navetta lah na-VET-tah
      boarding pass carta d'imbarco kart-ta deem-BARK-o
      baggage claim ritiro bagagli ree-TEER-oh bah-GA-lyee
      carry-on luggage bagaglio à mano bah-GA-lyo ah MA_no
      checked luggage bagalio bah-GA-lyo

      Useful Italian for car travel

      English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
      car automobile ow-toh-MO-bee-lay
      scooter/motorboke un motorino oon mo-tair-EE-no
      gas station stazione di servizio stah-zee-YO-nay dee sair-VEE-tzee-yo
      gas benzina ben-ZEE-nah
      diesel gasolio [or] diesel gah-ZOH-lee-oh [or] DEE-zell
      Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore ahl pee-YAY-noh, pair fa-VOHR-ray
      Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
      ...the highway l'autostrada lout-oh-STRA-dah
      ...the state highway la statale [written "SS"] lah sta-TAHL-eh
      ...the road for Rome la strada per Roma lah STRA-dah pair RO-mah
      to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
      to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
      straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
      keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
      to cross attraversare ah-tra-vair-SAR-ay
      toll pedaggio peh-DA-jo
      parking parcheggio par-KEH-jo
      road map carta stradale kar-ta stra-DA-lay
      where can I pay the fine? dove posso pagare la multa DOH-veh Po-so pag-GAR-ray la MOOL-tah

      Typical road signs / terms » more

      English (anglais) French (français) 
      Stop Stop
      Exit  Uscita
      Staffic light Semaforo
      One-way Senso unico
      Dead-end Strada senza uscita
      Parking prohibited No parcheggio or parcheggio proibito
      Pedestrian zone Area pedonale
      Limited Traffic Zone (you pay to drive in) ZTL or Zona Traffico Limitato

      Basic phrases in Italian

      English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
      thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
      please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
      yes si see
      no no no
      Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
      I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
      I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
      How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
      That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
      Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
      Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
      Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
      Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
      Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
      Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
      Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
      ...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
      ...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
      to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
      to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
      straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
      information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

      Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

      English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
      When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
      When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
      At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
      Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
      Today oggi OH-jee
      Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
      Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
      a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
      Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
      Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
      Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
      Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
      Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
      Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
      Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
      Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
      Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
      Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
      a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
      January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
      February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
      March marzo MAR-tzoh
      April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
      May maggio MAH-jee-oh
      June giugno JEW-nyoh
      July luglio LOO-lyoh
      August agosto ah-GO-sto
      September settembre set-TEM-bray
      October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
      November novembre no-VEM-bray
      December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

      Numbers in Italian

      English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
      1 uno OO-no
      2 due DOO-way
      3 tre tray
      4 quattro KWAH-troh
      5 cinque CHEEN-kway
      6 sei say
      7 sette SET-tay
      8 otto OH-toh
      9 nove NO-vay
      10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
      11 undici OON-dee-chee
      12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
      13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
      14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
      15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
      16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
      17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
      18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
      19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
      20 venti VENT-tee
      21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
      22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
      23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
      30 trenta TRAYN-tah
      40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
      50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
      60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
      70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
      80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
      90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
      100 cento CHEN-toh
      1,000 mille MEEL-lay
      5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
      10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

      * You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).


      Other places in The Italian Lake District