The Joys of Lake Garda
From divas to dictators, poets to politicians, people have been flocking to the shores of Lake Garda for centuries. Lesser known than it’s infamous neighbor Lake Como, Lake Garda is a delightful alternative to Como as a northern Lake in Italy. Garda is the largest of the Italian lakes, bordering all three regions of Lombardy, Alto Adige and the Veneto. We recommend four days in the area, which translates to Garda, Verona, Valpolicella and the Bolzano Mountains.
Lake Garda has much to offer, from ancient Roman ruins to water sports to stunning lake vistas. Easily the most popular stop on Garda, the picturesque town of Sirmione is certainly worth a visit. Sitting on a long promontory reaching out from the lake’s southern shore, Sirmione is synonymous with its most famous site Castello Scaligeri. The crenelated castle was built in the 12th century by the Scaligeri family, Verona’s ruling family, and was later taken over by the Venetian empire. Surrounded by a moat and drawbridge, this story book like castle boasts restored interiors and panoramic views of the lake. Sirmione is also famous for its natural sulphur springs, which have been attracting wellness conscious visitors since the Roman times. The naturally curative spring water can be enjoyed during a visit to one of the town’s luxury spas. The down side with Sirmione is it is so charming that it is always crowded.
After lunch at one of Sirmione’s numerous eateries, head to the Grotte di Catullo, a pleasant fifteen-minute stroll from the main piazza. The site hosts the ruins of a Roman villa, which was home to the poet Catullus from 84 to 54 BC. It is the largest complex in northern Italy built in the 1st century BC. It was abandoned in the 3rd century AD and is now open to visitors, along with a small archeological museum.
Should you have time, enjoy a panoramic boat tour of the lake on your own private boat. Take in the sights and enjoy the fresh air as you cruise around at your leisure. If traveling during the summer months, you may want to engage in water sports such as kitesurfing, sailing or kayaking.
While visiting the area, Do not miss The Vittoriale d’Italia, located in Gardone Riviera. The former residence of Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, this unique property is made up of the residence, an amphitheater, a boathouse, gardens, and a circular mausoleum. We recommend visiting with a historic guide, who will provide insight into d’Annunzio’s quirky and intricate life. Confiscated from a German during WWI, the house is filled with thousands of objects collected over the years including an impressive collection of 33,000 books. One of the most unique features is the naval ship “Puglia” which was donated to the poet by the Italian government to commemorate his service. The ship sits embedded into the hillside, pointing in the direction of Croatia, the land d’Annunzio wanted to conquer. In addition, the boathouse holds a submarine, which was also donated by the Italian government. Cap off your visit with a tour of the mausoleum and extensive gardens, and you are in store for a very interesting afternoon.
Overall Lake Garda offers a unique and diversified experience in northern Italy. Whether you are interested in history, water sports, thermal springs, archeology, or natural beauty, Garda will not disappoint. There are a variety of lodging options, from charming inns to spa resorts to luxury five star properties. Contact the Italian Concierge today to start planning your next dream vacation to Italy!