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Visit the stunning Italian Lakes this summer.
As popular as they are with tourists from all over the world, there’s still something peaceful about the Italian Lakes, with their stunning beauty, warm but not too warm summer climate, and rural villages. And of course there’s the added attraction of delicious food to be had in one of the numerous local ‘trattorie’. Nestling close to the Swiss border, residents of northern Italian cities happily head there to escape the oppressive summer heat, and you can see why.
If it’s your first visit to the area, why not base yourself on Lake Como? It may be the choice of the rich and famous (George Clooney and his Italian girlfriend have a house there) but the opulent villas and smart lakeside towns that fringe the lake appeal to the senses and there’s accommodation and eateries to suit all budgets.
Try the BBC Travel recommended Hotel La Pergola (lapergolabellagio.it 00 39 031 95 02 63), a converted 16th century convent located right on the lake in the tiny fishing village of Pescallo, a 15-minute walk from Bellagio. The one-time nuns’ rooms are built around an attractive courtyard and a double with breakfast starts at around €110 per night.
With main courses for between £8-£16, Ristorante Sociale (Via Rodari 6, 00 39 031 26 40) makes a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner. The massive baroque fireplace and frescos in the upstairs dining room are an experience in themselves and you can fill up on no-frills risotto and huge Milanese veal escalopes.
Grab a cheap flight with Easy Jet and fly to Milan’s Malpensa airport where you can take a train or bus from the Stazione Nord to Como (£3; ferrovienord.it), or travel in style and hire a car.