JUST before I sparked off abroad for the first time an excellent two decades ago I wrote up a list of must-see locations, and the Italian Lakes were at wide variety 3. I’ve visible a number of the sector since then, however, the lakes constantly by some means misplaced out, mainly because of my quest to keep away from crowds of like-minded travelers.

But there is a manner of seeing one of the most stunning locations in the international without becoming a member of the hordes. Lake Maggiore has a coastline straddling international borders inside the Alps, with the calm and quite hideaway of Ascona, in Switzerland’s southernmost canton Ticino, set within reach of neighboring kingdom Italy.

Ascona is Switzerland’s lowest lying city. It sits at 196 meters above sea stage on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore. Ascona is well-known for its slight weather, its vintage city and a lake promenade which is dotted with road cafes and, frequently, art installations.

After flying into Zurich, a cozy -hour train ride grants you to this Mediterranean gem in which the glamorous Hotel Eden Roc opens out right into a lakeside playground surrounded by using snow-capped peaks.

Built in 1971, the hotel is unfolded out over three homes, every with its distinctive style — the major wing capabilities quirky and vibrantly furnished rooms created through Swiss architect and clothier Carlo Rampazzi. The right wing is more reserved, with blue, inexperienced and yellow color schemes, while the adjacent Eden Roc Marina is greater youthful, with a clean nautical 1960s fashion.

Its top-notch region can imply starting the day with a hike thru valleys earlier than lunch in a nearby grotto (a country-style eating place to us), capped off with a gap of paddle boarding from the inn’s beach, even in May while temperatures are frequently properly into the 20s.

On this occasion, the locals are throwing their fingers up in melancholy on the overcast conditions, which for this first-timer, means lovely views over the lake as the misty clouds seem to decide the water.

It also method a ship journey over a dew pond-like lake to the Brissago Islands, a tiny subtropical paradise wealthy with distinguished plants in which we wander thru gardens full of lotus blossom, giant sequoias, cypresses, banana flowers or even eucalyptus trees.

Our manual explains that this little pocket is created by using warmth stored within the surrounding water, so there are infrequently any frosts within the iciness, at the same time as the Alps additionally form a protective barrier in opposition to cold air from the north.

The journey back to Eden Roc shows the vicinity in all it’s glory, as one of the few motels in Ascona with private access to the lake, entire with a flotilla of vessels and toys to revel in the water.

The motel has a personal seashore, landing level, and lake front gardens. There’s a stunning spa, three swimming pools, saunas and a nicely-equipped gymnasium searching out in the direction of the lake.

All manner of activities can be organized on the inn’s affiliated water-sports faculty, which include banana boating, tubing and water-snowboarding, while boats may be rented out without or with a skipper.

Staff can endorse on trekking and mountain-cycling routes, and on renting out e-motorcycles or Vespas for a scoot along the palm-fringed promenades.

But on barely colder days, the lodge has a one-of-a-kind set of charms up its sleeve, now not least within the kinds of wine and meals.

You don’t listen to tons of approximately Swiss wine outside of Switzerland. However that’s due to the fact its miles generally splendid, and the especially small amount they produce is drunk through the Swiss themselves.

Sommelier Walter Martinat publications us down past the inn’s buzzing kitchen to the cellar for a tasting of the pleasant nearby wines. Merlot is the most popular grape inside the location, used to supply each pink and white wines, the latter best for the variety of seafood on the eating places’ menus.

La Casetta is an idyllic lake residence on the brink of Eden Roc’s lawns, with an open-air view out over the lake and a menu specializing in fish and pasta. But for our ultimate evening, we dined inside the motel at La Brezza, whose 27-yr-vintage Italian chef Marco Campanella has these days been provided a Michelin star for his “sparkling, ingenious and colorful Mediterranean cuisine that appeals to the eyes and the palate.” His meals are a welcome opportunity to the more traditional Swiss mountain cuisine, especially inside the hotter months. Marco has impressed guests of La Brezza together with his creations because of the summer time of 2017. My long-awaited Italian Lakes revel in may also have arrived within the surprising form of Swiss peace and calm, but it’s a ways from being a poor substitute. In reality, I surprise why it hadn’t been on my bucket list all alongside.