Lake District, Italy

Covering a total area of 301,340 km2, Italy is a sovereign nation that is located in south-central Europe on the Apennine Peninsula. The northern reaches of Italy are dominated by various ranges of the Alps Mountains and several high mountain peaks.

Situated in the southern side of the Alps in the Po River basin are a group of large cold mountain lakes that are colloquially referred to as the Italian Lakes. These lakes form a part of the Lake District and are in the northern part of Italy as well as the southern part of Switzerland.

Italian Lakes region map.

The Italian Lakes include Lake Como, Lake Garda, Lake Idro, Lake Iseo, Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta and Lake Varese. These large subalpine lakes are all considered glacial lakes that have been formed by the retreating glaciers. The Italian Lakes region experience a sub-Mediterranean climate with mild temperatures and fairly sunny weather throughout the year. The mild climate supports the growth of various Mediterranean plants like olive trees, Canary Island date palms, Mediterranean cypress, and parasol pines along the shores of the Italian Lakes. Since the Roman Era, these Italian Lakes serve as popular tourist destinations.

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Lake Garda

Lake Garda, Italy.

With an area of 369.98 km2, Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake. The lake is about 51.6 km in length and has a maximum width of 16.7 km. It reaches a maximum depth of 346 m at its deepest point. Lake Garda and its shoreline occupy the provinces of Brescia, Verona, and Trento in Northern Italy. The lake is shaped like a moraine valley and is relatively narrower in its northern part. The lake is surrounded mostly by the Gruppo del Baldo mountains. There are several small islands in the lake, of which the Isola del Garda island is the largest. Lake Garda’s main tributaries include the Sarca River, Ponale River, and Magnone River. The 79 m long Mincio River drains out of Lake Garda. Many Mediterranean plant species are found in the lake. The critically endangered salmonid fish Carpione is endemic to Lake Garda.

Lake Maggiore

Borromean Island, Lake Maggiore, Italy.

With an area of 212.5 km2, Lake Maggiore is Italy’s second-largest lake and the largest lake in the southern portion of Switzerland. The lake is situated on the southern side of the Alps and the lake and its shoreline occupy the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont in Italy and the Ticino canton of Switzerland. Lake Maggiore has a length of about 64.37 km and a maximum width of 10 km. It reaches a maximum depth of 372 m at its deepest point. Lake Maggiore’s main tributaries include the Ticino, Toce, Tresa and Maggia rivers. The Ticino river also serves as its main outlet. Several islands are located in Maggiore Lake including the Borromean Islands, Brissago Islands, Castelli de Cannero, and Isolino Partegora. The lake is surrounded by many rare and exotic Mediterranean plants.

Lake Como

Lake Como, Italy.

With an area of 146 km2, Lake Como is Italy’s third-largest lake. Lake Como has a length of about 46 km and a maximum width of 4.5 km. It reaches a maximum depth of 425 m and is regarded as Europe’s fifth-deepest lake. This Y-shaped glacial lake is situated in the Lombardy region of Italy and is fed by the Adda and Mera rivers. The Adda river also serves as its main outlet. Lake Como and its scenic lakeside villas serve as famous tourist and retreat destinations for aristocrats since the Roman Era.

Lake Iseo

Maroney, Lake Iseo, Italy.

With an area of 65.3 km2, Lake Iseo is the fourth-largest lake in the Italian Lakes region. Lake Iseo has a length of 25 km and reaches a maximum depth of 251 m. This lake is situated in the large Val Camonica mountain valley in the northern part of Italy and is divided between the Bergamo and Brescia provinces. Monte Isola is a large lake island that is situated in Lake Iseo. Loreto and San Paolo are two small islets that are also situated in Lake Iseo. The lake is fed by the Oglio River and several small streams. This crystal-clear lake is surrounded by lush green mountains.

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano, Italy.

With an area of 48.7 km2, Lake Lugano is a large glacial lake located on the boundary between the northern part of Italy and the southern part of Switzerland. The lake reaches a maximum depth of 288 m. Lake Lugano is surrounded by several small mountains including Monte Brè, Monte San Salvatore, Monte Generoso, and Monte San Giorgio. The lake is fed by the Tresa river while the Po and Ticino rivers serve as its main outlet. The northern and southern basins of the lake are separated by the Melide causeway.

Lake Varese

Lake Varese, Italy.

With an area of 14.5 km2, Lake Varese is a glacial lake situated in the Varese province of the Lombardy region of Italy. Lake Varese has a length of 8.6 km and a maximum width of 3.1 km. It reaches a maximum depth of 23 m.

Lake Orta

San Giulio Island, Lake Orta, Italy.

With an area of 18.2 km2, Lake Orta is situated west of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region of Italy. The lake has a length of 13.4 km and a maximum width of 2.5 km. The lake reaches a maximum depth of about 143m. Isola San Giulio is a 275 m long island situated within Lake Orta.

Lake Idro

With an area of 11.4 km2, Lake Idro is a large pre-alpine lake situated partly in the Brescia province and the Autonomous Province of Trento. The lake has a length of 11 km and a maximum width of 1.9 km. It reaches a maximum depth of 122 m and is fed primarily by the Chiese, Caffaro, and Re di Anfo rivers. The Chiese river also serves as its main outlet. The lake and its 24 km shoreline are shared by the Italian communes of Anfo, Idro, Bondone, and Bagolino. Lake Idro is seriously affected by lake eutrophication due to insufficient sewage systems and the use of its waters for irrigation. 

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