Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes

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Photos: (L) Seldon Vestrit and (R) Umberto Salvagnini.
07:09 CEST+02:00
Stretching from Valle d'Aosta and South Tyrol to Umbria and Lazio, Italy has some of Europe’s most beautiful lakes.

Lake Como tends to dominate visitors’ itineraries when it comes to the country’s lakes, and especially since George Clooney moved in, but there are others which are equally as stunning but perhaps less well known.

So forget the packed beaches, go and get some respite from the heat at one of these.

Each has its own character too, with picturesque villages and dramatic mountain ranges to marvel at while you're there.

Lake Orta, Piedmont

Photo: Seldon Vestrit

Lake Orta, near Milan, is little known beyond Italy. You’ll find it tucked away in Italy’s northern lakes district, close to the more popular, and larger, Lake Maggiore.

In the middle of the lake lies the charming Isola San Giulio, which is home to a 12th century church and 19th century seminary. The cobblestoned island is also mostly pedestrian-only. Lake Orta has long been popular with artists and writers too.

Lake Arpy, Valle d’Aosta

Photo: Davide Cantone

Tucked away in Valle d’Aosta, the autonomous region in Italy’s northwest corner, is Lake Arpy. The lake is set against the backdrop of the peaks of the Mont Blanc range. The area is popular for hiking and mountain biking, and is also home to smaller lakes.

Lake Garda, Lombardy

Photo: Lozwikes/Flickr

It's Italy’s largest lake and, alongside Como, is one of the country’s best known. As with some of the towns in Como, Lake Garda is among the best places to stay if you’re looking for something luxurious. Its charming villages have also been an inspiration to artists and writers. Located about half-way between Brescia and Verona, the area is also an excellent base from which to visit other places, including the Dolomites.

Lake Carezza, South Tyrol

Photo: Umberto Salvagnini

Located in Val d’Ega, in the northern South Tyrol region, Lake Carezza is famous for its emerald green water, set against the backdrop of the Rosengarten-Latemar mountain range, as well as the Karerwald forest, a paradise for walkers.

The best time to visit is in the early morning or evening, when the mountains are reflected in the crystal clear water. A perfect picture opportunity.

Lake Braies, South Tyrol

Photo: Trinchetto/Flickr

Much like Lake Carezza, Lake Braies, located in Val di Braies, offers another alluring mix of clear water, mountains and forest.

Lake Maggiore, Piedmont

Photo: Ed Webster

Straddling Italy and Switzerland, Lake Maggiore is the second-largest lake in Italy and is home to several towns and islands, including Isola Bella, which hosts the 17th-century Palazzo Borromeo. All surrounded by beautiful mountains.

Lake Iseo, Lombardy

Photo: Falke Lademann

Lake Iseo was referred to as a “hidden gem” until fairly recently, when artist Christo installed his 3km floating orange walkway on the lake. With images of "The Floating Piers" beamed across the world, thousands of visitors flocked to try out the walkway, many of them going barefoot to get an idea of what it feels like to walk on water.

But with the project closing this month, the crowds have now left and the lake can be enjoyed with a modicum of tranquility. From Iseo, you can also take a ferry ride to Monte Isola, the largest inhabited lake island in southern Europe.

Lake Bolsena, Tuscany/Lazio

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Photo: Mark Notari

Straddling Tuscany and Lazio, Lake Bolsena is formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. One of Italy’s cleanest lakes, it’s an excellent place to swim, fish or sail. Take a walk around the lake, and you’ll see charming villages, forests and few tourists.

Lake Bracciano, Lazio

Photo: Andrea L Bowman

The town of Bracciano shot to fame when Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes in its castle. Located just an hour’s train ride from Rome, the volcanic lake is the perfect spot for a refreshing dip in the summer. You can also go canoeing and sailing. The area also includes Lake Martignano and Anguillara.

Lake Lugano, Italy/Switzerland border

Photo: G.h.vandoorn

Situated on the northern Italian and southern Swiss border, the glacial Lake Lugano lies between Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. Sixty-three percent of the 48.7km lake is in Switzerland and 37 percent in Italy.

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