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Holiday People: SOME LAKE IT HOT!

THEY are among the most spectacular sights of Europe.

The Italian Lakes sparkle in the sublime setting of snow-capped Alpine peaks just around the corner from the Swiss border.

Vast stretches of water are surrounded by mountains, forests, grand villas, some of the world's top hotels and a feast of colour from flower- filled terraced gardens.

It's a romantic realm of scenic splendour that has attracted and inspired poets like Wordsworth and Shelley, composers Verdi and Rossini and writers like Ernest Hemingway, who wrote his classic novel A Farewell To Arms there.

Drink in the beauty from the boats that zig-zag to all corners of the lakes, the dramatic cable cars with spectacular views, the lakeside trains or your own car on a network of quality roads.

Como, Garda and Maggiore are the largest and most popular of the dozen lakes that fill the plunging Alpine valleys in the Lombardy region north of Milan.

A 40-minute train ride from the Italian hotbed of football, fashion and opera and you're on the shores of Lake Como.

It was here, almost 200 years ago, that England's Queen Caroline held wild parties in what is now a swish hotel. And the British influence remains with seven golf courses nearby!

High on a headland is Bellagio, which has been described as the prettiest village in Europe with its quaint cobbled streets and villas with stunning gardens.

On the southern tip of the lake is the silk city and elegant resort of Como, where crowds of summer visitors line the lake-front promenades of parks and cafes.

Fifty miles long and two miles across at its widest point, Lake Garda is the largest of the lakes and a haven for sailing and windsurfing. The cable car ride from Malcesine into the mountains is magnificent.

Of all the lakeland jewels, the three tiny Borromean islands on Lake Maggiore are absolute gems.

This, the second largest lake, was a holiday spot for Queen Victoria, whose visit in 1879 turned Baveno into a fashionable international resort.

Close by is the world-famous isle of Isola Bella, named after the wife of an Italian Count who turned the barren rock into a staggering garden of terraces and fountains populated by beautiful white peacocks.

Leger Holidays (tel: 01709 839839) has nine-day Lake Garda, Venice and Verona coach holidays available on a choice of dates from June 19 until October 23.

Prices start from pounds 279 per person, based on two sharing.

The deal includes return coach travel from more than 300 pick-up points in England and Wales, six night's half-board hotel accommodation on the northern shores of Lake Garda and excursions to Lake Tenno, Venice, Verona and Vipiteno.

Leger also has a seven-day Splendours Of Lake Garda tour in October from pounds 259 per person, based on two sharing.

The price includes return coach travel, two nights' bed and breakfast in Belgium, four nights' half-board at Lake Garda with a tour of the area and a trip to Verona.

Cresta Holidays (tel: 0161 927 7000) offer single-centre or tailor-made breaks in hotels around Lakes Maggiore, Como and Garda.

Seven nights at the three-star Firenze Hotel on Lake Como costs pounds 441 per person (twin share) until the end of June and includes breakfast and return scheduled flights from Gatwick.

Cresta recommends car hire for their Italian Lakes holidays and a week's hire starts at around pounds 168.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Allen, Richard
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 30, 1999
Words:565
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