Admittedly, I’m a saltwater kind of person, and a good vacation has always required an ocean beach. The appeal of lakes never truly hit me until I visited Italy’s lake district. Americans overlook this alpine region pocked with freshwater -- aside, maybe, from the famous Lake Como. But around Italy (and pretty much the rest of Europe) vacationers know and love these lakes between Verona and Milan, each with a distinct scene, whether that be sailing, celebrity, or simply being hidden.
In this region, you’ll find views for days: bright blue glacial lakes nested beneath jagged limestone peaks, set against the old-world architecture of the villages below. You’ll feel decidedly, Italianly chic as you jet around on sleek riva boats, yet you’ll find distinct German and alpine influences and accents. You’ll find wine regions, history dating back to the Roman empire, a zillion micro-regional cuisines, and lakes so big the ocean will forgive you for swooning.
So what if it doesn’t have salt? What it lacks in sodium, it makes up with just about everything else. It’s a spectacular patch of earth. Here are a dozen of its best spots worth a vacation.