While my wife shopped I got away to do some Bird Watching for a half day in Lake Garda ( Funavia up to Mt. Baldo) and for a day while I was at Lake Como where I took your advice and took the funicular up to Brunate and had a wonderful day wandering around the mountain. In all I had 53 Species of Birds while on my trip, of which 17 were new species for me.Italy's lakes provide good opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Besides water sports, there are good walking trails, mountain biking paths, and winter skiing in the hills and mountains above the lakes. Funiculars take you high up for good views and hiking. If you're not into sports, the lakes are dotted with picturesque villages, villas, and resorts, some offering good shopping opportunities.
Italian Lakes Travel Planning: Lake Como Travel Guide | Lake Garda Travel Guide | Lakes Region Maps | Lakes Region Guidebooks
Lakes Como and Garda Hotels: Top Lake Como Hotels | Riva del Garda Hotels | Desenzano del Garda Hotels
Picture of Lake Como by Martha Bakerjian, 2006 © about.com