Northern Italy offers a less typical but no less beautiful landscape than that of the South. Instead of coasts and Mediterranean vegetation, visitors here are enchanted by idyllic lakes in lush green Alpine foothills.
Como, Lecco and Varese by contrast offer just as much history and culture as most of the country’s southern cities.
Lake Maggiore, part in Switzerland, part in the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, stretches from the edges of the Alps to the borders of the Po Basin. The countryside around the lake is correspondingly varied: mountainous in the Italian north; flat in the south, where the protected floodplain area Sesto Calende is located; gentle to rugged hills in between; and the Borromean Islands in the lake. The region bordering the lake is equally beautiful: Verbania is home to the Botanical Gardens of the Villa Taranto, which boasts plants from all over the world; the Zoological Gardens in Stresa feature ancient trees and animals living freely; Luino is home to the popular market and the devotional complex of Sacro Monte di Ghiffa near Ghiffa. Around the lake, one finds a wealth of magnificent villas for sale, in various styles, from mediaeval to Art Nouveau.
In the north, Lake Garda resembles an Alpine lake; in the south it exudes a Mediterranean feel. Every year, thousands visit the picturesque villages and little towns around its banks, one jewel after another, each with its own particular beauty. Sirmione is set on a peninsular, protected by the enclosing walls of Scaliger Castle. Its gate is the only access to the historic town, with its picturesque houses lining the winding streets of the old town, up toward the ruins of a giant Roman installation at the end of the headland. Salò, on the other hand, is best approached by water, as this gives particularly good views of the undeveloped bank promenade and the Cathedral of Dom Santa Maria Annunziata. Gardone, with its fairy-tale botanical gardens, is also worth a visit, as is Gargnano, which lies embedded in the wonderful countryside of the Riviera dei Limoni. And near the lake: Verona, site of the most famous love story in the world. Second homes here can be found in various price sectors, from city apartments to villas with private access to the lake.
Lake Como has always been popular with the rich and famous for second homes–not just since George Clooney bought a 30-room villa right on the shore. Since then, however, demand has risen again steeply amongst celebrities. Indeed, the lake and its surroundings offer everything you could wish for: breathtaking mountain scenery, lush and varied vegetation, and a mild climate. Buyers are particularly attracted by Como, Lecco, and Colico at the tips of the three-armed lake, three very different but equally attractive places to live, and the countless small villages throughout the region. Historic villas, Art Nouveau buildings and modern properties meet a plethora of residential preferences. Residents here have countless possibilities for both relaxation and sporting activities. The lake is popular for a wide range of water sports including windsurfing and kitesurfing; the surrounding mountains are very inviting for hiking and climbing, and also offer glider pilots and hang-gliders idyllic panoramas from the air. Seven golf courses set within beautiful natural surroundings are played by locals and visitors alike. Shopping can be enjoyed both in the small local town, or on a larger scale in Milan, which is only 50 kilometres away.
Como, at the southern end of the lake of the same name, has an enchanting historic city centre. Within just a short distance of each other, you will find the architectural attractions of the Gothic cathedral, the church of San Fedele with its unusual choir floor plan, and Sant’Abbondio, the oldest of the three churches. But it is not just the major attractions that make Como so special; it is also the details–the ancient city walls, the cosy cathedral square, the boutiques housed in arcades, the fine restaurants and cosy bars, the park, the funicular to the mountain village of Brunate, the gardens of the Villa Olmo. But whatever their choice of property, be it a villa on the lake or a high-quality apartment in the centre, Como residents breathe in clean Alpine air, drink water from springs, and enjoy just as much Italianità as their southern counterparts.