Scattered across northern Italy, the sparkling lakes of Lombardy and their clear, still waters have become some of the most popular training hubs for Italian and international rowers.
Surrounded by dramatic hills, the waters north of Milan offer more than a glamorous holiday destination; rowers would be hard-pressed to find a more idyllic location.
Lake Como is home to some of Italy’s oldest clubs, including Canottieri Lario, which was founded by a group of rowing enthusiasts in 1891.
The club offers far more than your average boathouse. Built in the Italian rationalist style in the 1930s, it has extensive training facilities, a swimming pool, a diving rig and a restaurant with panoramic views across the lake. It also runs beginners' courses for associate members throughout the year.
To the west, the smaller Lake Varese is one of the top picks for international teams looking for fair-weather training. Its calm waters, at the foot of the mountainous Campo dei Fiori regional park, provide a magnificent setting for international regattas throughout the spring and summer months.
Canottieri Varese and Canottieri Gavirate are two of the most renowned Italian clubs in the area, each with a 2,000m buoyed course on the lake. Their training facilities are suitable for all, from beginners to international-level rowers.
It is said that rowing is even more popular than football in parts of northern Italy. As a result, there is no shortage of clubs throughout the region — lakes Lugano, Garda and Maggiore are also popular rowing spots, welcoming enthusiasts of all levels of skill and commitment.
This five-bedroom villa is a 10-minute drive from Canottieri Lario, nestled in the south-facing hills of Cernobbio, a small town. It has approximately 2,000 square meters of gardens and a swimming pool overlooking Lake Como.
Available through Italy Sotheby’s International Realty, €4.5m ($5.3m)
This 10-bed neoclassical villa on the banks of Lake Maggiore, in the small town of Luino, is a 30-minute drive from Canottieri Gavirate and minutes from the local rowing club, Canottieri Luino.
It has a guest house, swimming pool and a terrace with lake views.
Available through Christie’s International Real Estate, €4.9m ($5.8m)
Photographs: Riccardo Romolini; AleMasche72/Getty Images/iStockphoto; Cultura Exclusive/Walter Zerla/Getty Images; Xantana/Getty Images/iStockphoto