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If there's one thing Italy tours aren't lacking, it's variety. There's something for everyone in this European hotspot, whether you want to relax on the beautiful shores of the Mediterranean Sea or walk through the centuries-old streets of Rome. This broad appeal is especially on display in the northernmost reaches of the country, where Italian culture meshes with the picturesque Alpine landscape. There are a number of places where you can experience this unique blend, but Lake Como is arguably the best.
Villas pepper the landscape
Lake Como, which is located in northern region of Lombardy, has considerable natural appeal, but it is likely most known for the number of stunning villas spread throughout its banks. Much like it is today, the lake used to be a popular vacation spot for Italy's elite. Now modern travelers get to reap the benefits of their opulence, and one of the most well-known spots is Villa del Balbianello.This iconic residence was built in 1787 and was originally home to a Franciscan monastery before falling into disrepair during the 20th century. However, it has since been restored and now its breathtaking halls - which are filled with impressive artifacts - and its iconic terraced garden make it a must-see villa on Lake Como.
Hike the Alps
The lake rests under the majestic peaks of the Alps, so there is plenty of opportunity to take advantage of the many hiking trails in the nearby area. One of the most popular hikes is the trail that leads you to Sacro Monte di Ossuccio, which sits more than 600 feet above the lake below. The chapel was built in the early 18th century, and while the building itself is impressive, the views once you arrive at the top are hard to match. There are also more challenging hikes such as those leading to Monte di Tremezzo, which rises more than 5,500 feet.
Head out on the water
You'd be remiss if you didn't jump on one of the ferries to experience Lake Como from the water. Aside from offering unique views of the surrounding landscape, there ferries take you to many of the villages along the lake's banks, including Menaggio, which has one of the most well-known lakefront walking paths in the country.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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