Like all countries with mountain ranges and a volcanic history, Italy has plenty of lakes. They range from minuscule azure alpine ponds to breezy, silvery, sprawling Trasimeno. Hundreds of them are tucked away in remote corners. They offer the ideal kind of camping and wilderness experience that we Americans normally associate with the Rockies. If you ever visit one of the country's many national parks or nature reserves, be sure to visit the park center and gather information that includes a stop at a lago or laghetto. From Calabria to Val d'Aosta, you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery on God's green earth.
There is another kind of lake, and you can find it all over Italy. These are what you might call "the civilized lakes." Far from isolated and silent, they are lined with great eateries, quaint villages, elegant boutiques and pleasant beaches. These lakes are meccas for visitors. They offer a uniquely Italian blend of nature, culture, entertainment and epicurean delights. They are also favorite getaways for the Italians themselves. Spend a day or two here and you will really be able to observe the recreational habits of Homo Italicus. And don't think of it merely as a sociological experiment. Remember, no one knows how to recreate like the Italians! The truth is that the oh-so-dreaded beaten path usually takes us to places where we are most likely to encounter other foreign vacationers, while the majority of Italians we see are busy going about their day-to-day lives. Unless we are exceptionally daring American travelers and we venture out to the seaside, about the only relaxing Italian pastime we ever witness is the one that takes place in restaurants and trattorie.
Our issue this month focuses mostly on the civilized lakes. We all hope we'll inspire you to relax for a day at the lake on your next trip to Italy.