Some say the ancient village of Orta San Giulio, on the eastern shore of Lake Orta, is one of the best lake villages: largely traffic-free with medieval buildings, narrow cobbled streets, flanked by old stone walls with doorways topped with triangular architraves.
In the middle of the Lake Orta lies the San Giulio Island. You can take a boat from the village of Orta San Giulio to the picturesque Island of San Giulio, dominated by its Romanesque church and an ancient monastery.
On the western shore of the lake lies the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso. It rises in a panoramic position over the lake.
A small part of Lake Maggiore is in Switzerland (towns of Locarno and Ascona) but most of it is in Italy. The main area on this lake is centred around the grand resorts of Stresa and Verbania (which is the union of two towns: Pallanza and Intra) and the famous three Borromean Islands (Bella, Madre and Superiore) that lie between them. Stresa is surrounded by elegant villas and beautiful gardens.
From Stresa, the main town, a cable car ascends to Mount Mottarone (1.491 metres - 4,892 feet ) – a playground for mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking – or just for drinking in the breathtaking views. The three Islands in the middle of Borromean Gulf and the towns and on the lake can be visited by boat with frequent ferries. Learn more: Navigation on Lake Maggiore.
Lake Maggiore offers a real cycling holiday destination from April to October. Learn more: Lake Maggiore.
Lake Varese lies at the foot of the Regional Park of Campo dei Fiori while the Alps, dominated by the majestic profile of Mount Rosa, provide a splendid backdrop. Lake Varese is 5 kilometres – 3 miles far from the city centre of Varese.
28 km - 17 mi is the length of the cycle path that surrounds Lake Varese. Occasional uphill sections, which are never demanding, make the route accessible even to less fit or experienced riders. It isn't suited to faster riders because it's winding and frequented by pedestrians too.
Parts of Lake Lugano are in Italy but most of it, including the town of Lugano, is in Switzerland.
You don’t need your own document (ID card or passport) for riding in Switzerland. The policemen don’t ask you your own document if you cross the border by bike.
The lake has a number of different branches and is surrounded by mountains: Monte Generoso is the highest mountain by Lake Lugano (1.704 metres - 5,590 feet). At the southern end of the lake lies Capolago station with regular departures up to the top of Mount Generoso where on a clear day it is possible to see Milan as well as Lake Maggiore and Lake Como.
Rolling routes and mountains offering splendid viewpoints and a true round playground for cyclists. Learn more: Lake Lugano.
Lake Como and Shrine of Madonna del Ghisallo
This is perhaps the most famous lake of all and the best way to see it is either by boat or by bike from the top of one of the viewpoints. Its characteristic shape, reminiscent of an inverted Y, results from the melting of glaciers combined with the erosive action of Adda river.
This led to the formation of the two southern branches, in the midst of which there is the village of Bellagio.
The triangle of land to the south of Bellagio offers one of the most well-known cycling place of the Italian Lakes. Climb up on your bike to the Shrine of Madonna del Ghisallo the Patroness Saint of cyclists. Inside the tiny church you will find all sorts of cycling memorabilia including bikes from the classic races neatly pinned to the walls.
And if that wasn’t enough, right beside the church is a modern museum dedicated to cycling.