|Peschiera del Garda|
|Walls surrounding Peschiera del Garda|
|Ruins from the Roman era|
First stop was Peschiera del Garda at the foot of Lake Garda. At 34 miles long, it is the biggest lake in Italy. The town was once an important military center and is virtually an island in the lake surrounded by 16th century fortress walls. However, Peschiera del Garda's history goes back to the bronze age and the foundations of buildings from the Roman era were recently discovered.
|Borghetto on Mincio River|
Next stop was Lovere on Lake Iseo, smallest of the major Alpine lakes at 20 miles long. It is not as well known as Lakes Garda, Maggiore and Como, but just as beautiful.
|Medieval center of Lovere|
Lovere sits on the northwest corner of Lake Iseo with stunning views of the towering peaks that surround the water. It would be impossible to drive around the lake without the many long tunnels that cut through granite mountains
Our hotel offered a walking tour of the city where we saw the 3 different sections of the town: medieval, renaissance and modern. They must not get many Americans here. Our young tour guide was so surprised that we were from the U.S. that he kept pointing us out to locals along the way saying, "From Floreeda. Floreeda!"
|Entrance to tunnel through mountain on Lake Iseo|
In the middle of Lake Iseo is Mont Isola, the largest European lake island. We took the passenger boat there one day stopping at lakeside villages along the way. On the island, we were able to follow a tranquil path along the water from one village to another.
|Menaggio on Lake Como|
|Our hotel on the main square|
|View from our terrace|
From Lake Como, we drove to Lake Maggiore, the longest of the lakes (about 40 miles) but second in overall size. Partially in Switzerland, Lake Maggiore also attracted the rich and famous in years gone by. It was featured in Ernest Hemingway's novel "A Farewell To Arms."
|Promenade in Bellagio|
|Bellagio on Lake Como|
We found the town of Stresa to be a little too touristy so cut our visit short and moved on to the lovely lake of Viverone. Well off the beaten tourist path, we enjoyed a peaceful, relaxing few days there.
|View of Stresa & Maggiore from cable car|
|On top of Mount Mattarone|
On July 19, we say "Arrivederchi, Italy" and drive into France. After 2 months and 4 days in this beautiful country, we cannot answer the common question: What was your favorite? We loved the variety of our stops: the northern Italian Riviera, Tuscany, Umbria, the Adriatic coast and the Alpine lakes. We found the hosts and hostesses of our various lodgings to be incredibly warm and hospitable. More often than not, when we asked the check out time, the answer was, “When do you want?”
|Pool at Hotel Marina|
|View of Lake Viverone from hotel|
There is still so much more of Italy to see that we are already thinking about coming back next year. In the meantime, we look forward to saying "Bonjour, France."