What to see in the Italian Lakes

The Italian Lake District museums, ruins, monuments, churches, and other top attractions

Bellagio as seen from the Villa Carlotta (Photo by Ray in Manila)

Bellagio is often called one of the most beautiful towns in Italy

An aerial view (Photo by Jeroen Komen)

The terraced gardens of this 1784 lakeside villa are so picturesque it has been cast in several films

The garden facade (Photo by Diego Bonacina)
Villa Carlotta

A baroque villa filled with Neoclassical sculptures and Romantic paintings halfway between Lenno and Menaggio

A detail of the 14C frescoes in the apse (Photo by Laurom)

A Romanesque masterpiece with great 14C frescoes

Detail of the facade (Photo by JoJan)

A statue-studded facade and tapestry-lined cathederal—plus a digression on ancient local hero Pliny the Elder

A detail of the 14C frescoes in the apse

This silk-making town anchors the SW end of Lake Como

Varenna (Photo Ray in Manila)

A quiet mid-lake town with villa gardens, frescoed churches, and a great view from a ruined castle

The gardens (Photo Public Domain)

A vast park of 18C gardens covering the headland of Bellagio's peninsula with killer views


A 14C castle with Lake Como views high above Varenna


A mountaintop abbey with great views and Romanesque frescoes

The apse end of the church (Photo by Ben Bender)

An ancient (6C–12C) church in Como's historic center

Abbazia di Piona
Northern Lake Como

A Romanesque Abbey making superior monastic hooch on a Notehrn Como lake peninsula


A former convent with lovely terraced gardens by the lakeside


A small lakeside museum celebrating the accomplishments of famed Como-born scientist Alessandro Volta


The nondescript driveway where Mussolini was killed

The lakefront (Photo by Gerry Labrijn)

A lively resort town on western shore of the lake, across from Bellagio on its peninsula and Varenna on the distant shore

Villa Melzi

A neoclassical villa and gardens


A striking and sobering monument to the European Resistance movement of WWII


A town by a smaller lake S of Como with Romanesque churches

An aerial view

A tiny town with a magnificent villa, frescoed church, and, nearby, the spot where Mussolini was shot

Il Vittorale
Gardone Riviera

An over-the-top villa built by early 20C poet, solider, and adventurer Gabriele d'Annunzio

Castello di Arco
Northern Lake Garda

A ruinous castle with medieval frescoes above Riva del Garda


A small but delightful bower planted a hundred years ago by the Swiss naturalist Arturo Hruska

Villa Romana
Southern Lake Garda

Northern Italy's best-preserved ancient Roman villa

Sirmione on the tip of its peninsula (Photo Public Domain)

A resort town with a medieval castle and Roman ruins at the tip of a skinny peninsula into Lake Garda

Lake Garda

A sunny seaside resort with a cool castle and several windsurfing rental outfits

The remains of the villa are right at the tip of the peninsula (Photo by Agsftw)

The ruins of a large ancient Roman villa with sweeping Lake Garda view at the tip of Sirmione's peninsula

Isola del Garda
Garda's western shore

The villa and gardens on Garda's only island are privately owned but open for tours


A pretty resort town on Garda's northwestern shore

Riva del Garda

The northernmost town on the lake is prosperous Italian town of narrow cobblestone streets, medieval towers, and modest Renaissance churches and palazzi

The castle still guards the entrance to Sirmione (Photo by Pe-sa)

An imposing little 13C castle out of a storybook surrounded by water

Garda's eastern shore

A beach town and Romanesque church on Garda's western shore

Castello Scaligero
Northern Lake Garda

A 14C castle with great rampart views and modest museums

The medieval frescoes (Photo by Allie Caulfield)

A small Sirmione church with medieval frescoes

Monte Baldo
Garda's eastern shore

A cable-car ride from Malcesine to a mountain with vistas and hiking trails

Garda's eastern shore

A Lake Garda town famous for its wine since antiquity

Castello Scaligero
Garda's eastern shore

A postcard little castle with a modest museum, small vineyard, and lake views

Northern Lake Garda

The windsurfing capital of Italy

Garda's western shore

A genteely faded resort with a Gothic Duomo and uncomfortable memories of Mussolini's final days

Peschiera del Garda

Italy's largest theme park

Activities, walks, & excursions links
Local tourism info links
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
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
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

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.).