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Lombardy

Lombardy (Lombardia)

Milan (Milano)

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The Lake Country

Even before Lake Como, Maggiore, Iseo, Garda, and Orta became famous as a refuge for Hollywood stars, people from around the world flocked to this idyllic country to enjoy lakeside dolce vita.  Lake Como specifically was the backdrop for films such as Star Wars Episode II (the lake where Anakin and Padme fall in love), Ocean's TwelveCasino Royale, and Quantum of Solace. Also see this article about hiking along the lakes.

Lago di Garda (Lake Garda)

The largest lake in Italy, the tip is in Trentino, and the rest of the lake/shoreline is split between Lombardy and Veneto. The north end is more mountainous than the south, but there are mountain views throughout.  Known for being family-friendly.  This site has some nice maps giving an overview of the lake.

chowhound thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715181

Riva del Garda - between mountains at the northernmost point of the lake, popular summer resort for Austrians and Germans
  • La Contrada - Slow Food
Arco - perched above Riva del Garda, home to a medieval castle
  • Alla Lega - trattoria rec'd by Alice for rustic traditional food, open only for dinner except weekends (also closed on Wed apart from summer)
  • Belvedere - Località Varignano, Via Sarafini 2, 046-451-6144, www.trattoriabelvedere.it, closed Wed, TCI and Alice rec'd for a "blast to the past", old 19th-C farmhouse, old-school traditional plates such as carne salada, including ingredients from the farm, ~20-25 euro.
  • Da Gianni - only open for dinner, also a hotel, rec'd by Alice
  • Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie - via Linfano 81, 046-450-5542, www.madonnadellevittorie.it agriturismo that is very popular on Tripadvisor, produces wine/olive oil...trattoria opened in 2013, looks beautiful. Blog post: http://amepiacemangiare.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/agritur-madonna-delle-vittorie-arco-tn/
  • Osteria Le Servite - www.leservite.com rec'd by a chowhound, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
  • [a bit north, in Comano Terme] Osteria della Locanda Fiore - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Brentonico - NE of lake
  • Maso Palù is rec'd by chowhounds and Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 www.masopalu.com
Malcesine - on Veneto (eastern) shore, very nice town at foot of Mount Baldo (a cableway takes you to the top!), which also features a medieval castle.  This blogger has some great photos and stories about Malcesine.

Limone - on Lombardian (western) shore, relatively small town crammed between the cliffs and lake

Gardone Riviera & Salò - at far southwest corner of lake
  • Osteria Dell'Orologio - rec'd by chowhound, www.osteriadellorologiosalo.com
  • Locanda agli Angeli - rec'd by chowhound, Slow Food
  • Osteria di Mezzo - rec'd by chowhound
Sirmione - beautiful town perched on a tiny peninsula at the south end of the lake, features Scaliger Castle
  • La Rucola - rec'd by a chowhound, one Michelin star
  • Taverna Kus - rec'd by a chowhound
  • ##Ristorante Pace - in center of town, focuses on lake fish and traditional dishes, in summer you can eat on a jetty over the lake, www.ristorantepace.it also hotel/photos at www.pacesirmione.it, Piazza Porto Valentino 5, 030-990-5877, open every day (except closed in winter), rec'd by Michelin, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014, €35 "Lake" tasting menu (also more expensive €65 one)
Ca del Baldo agriturismo rec'd by Rick Steves reader www.cadelbaldo.com, in Caprino Veronese on the eastern shore

Lago di Como

While Como caters to the rich and famous, us ordinary folks can also have fun here.  Rick Steve's favorite spot is Varenna, on the East shore.
  • Como: rec'd by Time Out are Le Colonne, Osteria del Gallo, ristorante Sociale, Castiglioni, La Colombetta, L'Angolo Divino, 
  • West Shore: rec'd by Time Out are Cernobbio's Albergo Centrale, Trattoria del Glicine, Tirlindana, Osteria del Giuanin [classic local cuisine], Tremezzo's lakeside La Darsena, Osteria Il Pozzo, Pizzeria Lugano, Ristorante Red Bay
  • 2014 Osterie d'Italia:
    • Bellagio: Silvio
    • Domaso (NW shore, near Gravedona): Ruffino
    • Dosso Del Liro (inland/NW from Gravedona): Aquila d'Oro
    • Proserpio (inland/S of the lake, near Erba): Inarca
    • Sorico (N shore): Beccaccino
    • Lecco (SE shore): Antica Osteria Casa di Lucia
    • Mandello del Lario (SE shore): Sali e Tabacchi

Lago d'Iseo

This relatively untouristed lake boasts Europe's largest inland island, Monte Isola.
  • In Iseo, Time Out rec's Il Volto and Al Porto.  Near Sale Marisino, Villa Kinzica/Ristorante Uliveto also rec'd.

Lago Maggiore

As its name implies, the largest of the lakes, which extends up to Switzerland.  Classy and majestic.
Stresa is Rick Steve's favorite town (on the Piedmont shore)...from there, you can take a boat to Isola Bella, with a Borremeo palace
  • Piedmont shore:
    • Time Out recommends Osteria del Triass, Cafe de la Sera, Taverna del Pappagallo, Milano, Bolongaro, La bottiglieria, Osteria del Castello, Ristorante Vecchio Olmo, and Lo Scalo
  • Lombardy shore:
    • Time Out rec's Il Veliero and AVAV Yacht Club.

Bergamo

Hilltop town with a bunch of cool museums and palaces.  
  • Al Donizetti - Slow Food establishment, serves up salumeria, lardo, etc, rec'd by Time Out
  • Antica Trattoria la Colombina - rec'd by Time Out
  • Trattoria del Teatro - Slow Food, rec'd by Time Out

Monza

Lombardy's third-largest city, home to the Formula One race and palaces.  Duomo is cool, too.

Mantua (Mantova)

City surrounded by artificial lakes with a nice Medieval/Renaissance core that is an UNESCO World Heritage site. ~2 hours by car or train from Milan; Modena (in Emilia Romagna) and Verona (in Veneto) are actually closer, at ~1 hour by car or train. It's especially known for its pumpkin cuisine, especially tortelli di zucca.
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