I am planning a trip to the Italian Lakes (specifically, Lake Como) and I am wondering if English is widely spoken / accepted around these areas.
I haven't been there in a while, but from past experience I would say "sort of". Typically you can get by with English but not a lot of Italians would be able to engage in a nuanced discussion. In general, English is more prevalent in Northern Italy than in Southern Italy.
The north tip of Lago di Garda borders on the province (or autonomous region) of Alto Adige. This is still closely connected to Austria and there is a lot of German spoken (or at least a local dialect that's recognizable to German speakers)
I've just returned from a trip to Lake Como. In Como city itself, English was spoken very widely, especially among people who might expect to interact with tourists such as waiters and public transport staff. So much so that most people I spoke to in my fairly limited Italian just immediately answered in very good English.
In the smaller towns up the lake, it's a bit different. It's still not particularly hard to find English speakers but they're rarer and less skilled. Most of them will appreciate attempts to communicate in even basic Italian.
My experiences are mixed: Many times one finds people who speak a bit of English and some times not. However, they were always helpful to me in order to understand and find a way out. That holds for basic interactions. For discussions etc I think basic knowledge would help.