Garda Lake is the most majestic of the Italian lakes, and definitely one of the places you don’t want to miss when traveling in Northern Italy. Since ancient times poets such as Catullus and Virgil used to praise the beauty of its shores, of the surrounding nature and mountains that never ceases to enchant thanks to landscapes, charming spots and mild climate. Although located in a pre-alpine environment, the climate is Mediterranean and you can enjoy a holiday at any time of the year. Here’s the places I like the most, wishing you to enjoy their eternal beauty.
Sirmione: located on a peninsula which stretches out for about 4 km in the lower Garda Lake, it is famous for the unique charm of its old town with narrow and irregular streets as well as for the ruins of the Grotte di Catullo, the largest and most important roman villa in northern Italy.
The small museum next to the entrance contains important archeological finds like bronze objects, coins, sculpture fragments and remains of frescos.
Worth visiting is the Castello Scaligero, constructed for the defence of the lower lake and the fleet.
Desenzano: located in the south-west part of the lake is in the centre of a gulf with a wonderful view on the lake showing its full beauty.
In ancient time the town has been an important lake-dwelling settlement and became residence of many wealthy Romans in the I. and II. century experiencing a heyday, due to this the strategic position and the proximity to the street “Via Emilia”, an important connection with the northern countries.
Nowadays Desenzano is very popular because of its beautiful promenade with the impressive venetian-style buildings.
Worth seeing is the medieval castle as well as the archaeological museum and the remains of a roman villa with floor mosaics.
Salò: the largest city on the western side of the lake, a region characterized by wonderful Mediterranean vegetation. The beautiful lakeside promenade is the longest of the entire lake and leads to the idyllic, comfortable shingle beaches in the south of the bay. The “Colle San Bartolomeo” provides numerous walking paths and panoramic tours.
Have a walk in the old town, a network of narrow streets and small squares, with many shops and excellent restaurants. The cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata is considered as the most important church of Garda Lake.
Gardone Riviera and the Vittoriale: on the western side of the lake is an incomparable „botanical garden“ with typical Mediterranean, subtropical and central European vegetation. Worth seeing is the Heller Botanical Garden and the Villa Alba.
Gardone has become an important tourist destination at the end of the 18. century, due to the conviction that the region would have a beneficial effect to health. The most popular sight is the Vittoriale degli Italiani, property of the poet Gabriele D’annunzio from 1912 until 1938. In the buildings, surrounded by several gardens, is the grave of the poet, an open air theatre.
Gargnano: on the western side of the lake it is composed of several villages: Bogliaco, where every year in September the Centomiglia, a spectacular hundred-miles-regatta of sailing boats, attracts tourists from allover the world, Villa and its super romantic marina, Gargnano, the main village, with magnificient villas, palaces and beautiful gardens.
Furthermore the small lake Lago di Valvestino, imbedded between the slopes of the Valvestino, is worth seeing.
Tremosine: Tremosine, located on a plateau which falls steeply down to the western shore of the lake, consists of 18 districts. This area provides a variety of natural beauty, from the Mediterranean to the alpine landscape, with the Lake, the valleys and the hills and mountains covered with olive groves. Several mule trails are interesting hiking- and mountain bike tracks. A panoramic road, elected as the “most beautiful road of the world” by the “Frankfurter Zeitung”, leads from the harbour through a canyon to the plateau providing breathtaking views of the lake. Because of its special beauty Tremosine has been added to the list of “the most beautiful villages in Italy”.
Limone: Limone sul Garda is the northernmost village on the western side of the lake. Completely isolated until the construction of the western Gardesana in 1932.
The local economy was based mainly on the cultivation of lemons and olives and on fishing. Symbol of the village are the famous Limonaie (greenhouses for cultivation of lemons) located on terraces at the hillsides. Ruins of the first greenhouses, built in the 17th century can be visited north of Limone.
The small village, with beautiful palaces, narrow streets and the picturesque harbour, has maintained the typical atmosphere of a fishing village, fascinating in the past famous personalities such as Goethe, Lawrence and Ibsen.
Worth visiting is San Rocco church (XVI century).